|This is exactly what I look like when I sit down to write.|
After a long pause, mostly spent thinking about zombies, you type four words. They are all clumsy, ugly words. You rearrange them. You manage a few sentences. Then your cat leaps on top of your keyboard. On the internet, which you're honestly not checking right now, not really, one of your best friends is online. I've written, like, 400,000 words today. I'm on some kind of roll, they say. You writing at the moment? You sigh.
You check your word count. Today, so far, you have written 32 words. Then you realise you haven't deleted your cat's contribution yet. You growl quietly to yourself. You type one sentence, then another. Every word seems to weigh a tonne. Then you notice you've contradicted something you said earlier. You remove 25 words. At this point, it's awfully tempting to abandon the whole exercise. But you ignore the toast cravings, the internet, your neglected pets and children. You type. And you type.
And there are a couple of things that can happen. One is that you could break through all this. An epic number of words could find their way out of you. You could stop, let out a breath you didn't know you'd been holding, and lean back in your chair in a state of productively productive happy happiness.
But the other thing could happen. It could be a tortoise day. The world moves very slowly on a tortoise day. You could sit fighting for hours and produce, you know, two words, that both turn out to be wrong. And all the while it seems like the internet is full of racing hares, scampering out millions and millions of words. Sometimes, the thought of a possible tortoise day is so depressing that you don't even want to take the risk. You could abandon things now and never know. But you don't. You risk being the tortoise. And you clench your teeth and you write write write, and hope that you come out the other side intact.
Chances are, you won't have a tortoise day. You'll have a decent day. Or even a good day. Or a fantastical zillions of words day. But what if you're unlucky? What if this is the day when you can't remember why you're doing this, when you can only type at a rate of one and a half words per hour, when you make such slow progress it's unbelievable that you could be making progress at all? Doesn't it prove you're the worst writer in the world, if you have a day like this?
No. All writers have tortoise days - the famous, the unpublished, and everyone in between. In the end, the tortoise days are just as important as the sprinting hare days. Because it's not about who goes fastest. It's about making stories out of nothing, one sentence at a time. And if you keep going, no matter how slowly you go, you'll win.