No, for things like spending too much time on Twitter, that typically means I’ll write fewer words (unless I’m on Twitter for a word war, at which point it’s productive).
What causes the single greatest loss for me are the days on end where I’ve lost belief in my book. It happens every book. I wish I could say that I’ve learned to plan for these side trips into the doldrums, but no. I haven’t.
So here are some of the ways I work out of these issues.
But X Has a More Famous Book on a Similar Topic
This will always be true, right? Even though every book is unique, the mind can always find ways in which X’s book or Y’s screenplay or Z’s book is similar to one’s own.
Here’s my exercises for this stage of writerly despair:
- Name ten things your book has that X’s does not. They can be small things, e.g., you feature a coffee shop throughout your novel, and X’s does not. You love coffee.
- Name one person (whom you’re not related to) who you think would be more interested in the book you’re writing than X’s, and why you think that’s so. Pro tip: this can be your barista.
- Identify one thing you hope a reader will get out of your book that they won’t get out of X’s.
Why Am I Writing This?
At some point, my answer usually boils down to: because you started it. That’s reason enough for some people, but sadly it’s not reason enough for me.
- List ten things you think are cool about the book.
- Name three things you learned while writing or researching the book.
- Is there anything you found “too cool not to use” that you haven’t used yet?
Write Ten Words (or Write One Paragraph)
Instead of writing a day’s quota, I’ll challenge myself to only write a ridiculously small amount of words. Then quit.
Repeat as needed. It’s better than not writing at all. At some point, you’ll realize you’ve gone over that quota and are back in the groove. For me, this usually takes a few days.