What I Learnt From Missing 3 Days Of Writing

Since I publicly committed to writing daily for 30 days, I felt that I should explain why I missed 3 days of writing last week.

Last Thursday, I wrote a draft in the morning and planned to complete it on the train home that night. On the train, I developed motion sickness and could not work on the draft properly. I decided not to press on and hence, did not publish a post that day.

I know that it was simply due to bad planning. Had I allocated more time to writing that day, I might have been able to publish the post.

The day before, I had a bad day for my writing too. These 2 days made me lose much motivation to write. Therefore, I decided to take a break from writing. As I was travelling to Oxford for 2 days, I decided to take the 2 days as a break from writing.

Looking back at those 3 days, I feel that it might be a mistake to miss those days of writing. Instead of looking for excuses, I decided to analyse what happened and see if I could learn anything.

Better Planning

I missed my daily writing deadline last Thursday because I didn’t want to publish drafts that I’m not satisfied with. Despite knowing that, I did not allocate sufficient time to write and refine the post.

That day taught me 2 lessons.

First, I underestimated the amount of time I need to write a post that I’m satisfied with. Looking back, I realised that I would spent at least 3 hours to write a post that I’m happy with. Some days, I took up to 6–7 hours.

There are 3 things I could do about this moving forward:

  1. I could speed up my writing process, which I’ve tried without much success. I guess speed would come with more practice.
  2. I could allocate more time for writing. Allocating 6–7 hours for writing each day might not be feasible considering that I have other commitments apart from writing. However, this would be less of a problem after my challenge to write daily as I could break up my writing process into a few days.
  3. With my current challenge to write daily, it might be better for me to write shorter posts on days when I have less than 3 hours available for writing. Of course, this does not mean that I should compromise on the quality of the posts.

Second, I learnt that I do not write well under time pressure. When I have 30 minutes or less to write, I found it hard to pull my thoughts together to write something meaningful. So instead of having pockets of 30 minutes throughout the day to write, I might be better off having blocks of 1–2 hours.

Be Consistent

As mentioned earlier, I decided to take a break because I had 2 bad days for my writing, which demoralised me quite a bit. I felt that taking a break might allow me to be motivated to write again and perhaps think and write better.

I’m not quite sure if the break was helpful as I’m still finding it hard to write today. Perhaps it might have been better if I wrote regardless of my mood or motivation level.

In her post, 7 Habits of Highly Effective Writers, Alexis Landau wrote:

There is no “writing mindset” — if I waited for that, I would never write. The only thing that helps is sitting down every day, at the same time (roughly) and having peace and quiet, even if it is just an hour, to think, without the pressures of the outside world. I don’t check email or take any phone calls. It is a reserved time, just to ponder and explore various ideas, scenes and characters. Mary Oliver once said something about how if you show up for the muse consistently, then she will start showing up for you consistently, as if the psyche knows that you are writing and preparing, and so after time, you get something back, but you have to be there to receive it, no matter how painfully slow or awful you think it’s going.

Having read this, I am determined to “show up” daily for the remaining 13 days of my challenge.

While it might have been a mistake to miss 3 days of writing, I’m glad that I took away some valuable lessons.

Have you had days when you lose motivation for writing? I would love to hear how you deal with it 🙂

(This is my 17th blog post of my 30in30 challenge — 30 blog posts in 30 days. Through this challenge, I hope to feel comfortable and more confident with writing and become better at writing.)