Okay, let’s be honest, you didn’t grin, you bit the bullet.
We all have these days in our lives and our work. You would think that working for myself, away from others, would avoid the things I left behind in the corporate world. Ah, but alas, no. Today was a day spent dealing with office politics, whiners, bitchers, moaners, and time wasters.
I got yelled at for leaving a factual, informational comment on a blog, accused of being defensive and over-protective of WordPress. I was accused of not using my influence with WordPress to force them to fix something. I was slammed for having no experience as a WordPress Theme designer by someone who knows me not but seems to like making up accusations. I got four phone calls from other bloggers concerned about another blogger and wanting to know what I was going to do about it. I got six emails from other bloggers also wanting to know what I was going to do about a blogger out of control. Two emails and one phone call blamed WordPress for a security flaw that was in a WordPress Plugin and had nothing to do with WordPress, or me, at all. A flood of comment spam attacked my blog. I had to comment on four auto-scraping blogs stealing my content. My web browser crashed twice. And my cat peed bloody pee on the floor of the bathroom, and I stepped in it.
Oh, that’s just the start of my day. It went downhill from there.
I called the vet and raced the two cats to the vet, not knowing which was the culprit. During a discussion about how to get a urine sample from the sick cat, debating whether to leave him there over night or set up some system to collect his urine back home, the cat squatted and peed next to my foot on the floor. I looked at the vet and said, “There’s your urine sample.”
At least that much went right.
Getting back into the motor home – the car is in the shop so I had to haul the cats in the 21 foot motor home – I noticed the gas tank was almost empty. The cheapest gas is out of the way, but I drive it. I tell the attendant (they fill it for you in Oregon) not to overfill the tank. He did. I lost about two gallons as it overflowed, siphoning out onto the pavement. So much for saving money on gas.
I get back home with the cats and there is no Internet connection. A storm has moved in and is interfering with the satellite. So I drop off the cats, lay down towels on the floor of the bathroom, crawl back in the motor home and drive back into town, a 20-30 minute haul, to park outside the local hotel which has free high speed WIFI. As I write this, I’m standing in the freezing motor home at the table, laptop open, trying to get my head clear to work.
Then it hails and snows.
I don’t have the right clothing for extreme temperatures in the motor home, since we use it mostly in the summer, so I layered on two t-shirts and a sweatshirt under my micro-fleece pull-over, and then put on my winter coat. I put on a pair of leggings I use for working out under my pants and added an additional pair of socks. I could barely bend my arms to work the keyboard and mouse. My nose was frozen.
It was about one in the afternoon and my bad day was still getting started.
I’ve had worse days, but I was angry and pissed, frustrated and furious. And I had three articles due.
Articles that required calm, collected thinking. Articles that require my technical expertise to prune down instructions into digestible chunks. Articles that required concentration. Articles I just couldn’t get in the mood to write, let alone edit and publish.
Calming the Writer’s Brain
I made a cup of tea, trying to calm my spirit. The hail and the snow made it dangerous to take a walk outside along the narrow sidewalk along the busy streets. Cars were slipping all over the place.
Staring at the tea wasn’t working, so I jumped around and danced within the narrow confines of the tiny motor home trying to warm up my body and toes, rocking it from side to side. If anyone was paying attention through the thick rain, snow, and sleet, I’m sure they thought there was some fun going on in there.
I flipped on the radio but it was whining on about the candidates for the US election – something too far in the future for me to think about – so I flipped to a music station and tried to dance to the songs of the 80s. It was better than nothing.
The hot water was ready and I tried to relax and meditate over my green tea. No good. I still wanted to hit something. I wanted to inflict pain. I wanted to scream. I couldn’t shake off the crap of the morning.
Is it essential that a writer must have a calm mind before beginning writing? I used to think that. I know know otherwise.
There is no “writer’s peace of mind” or “centered” place for a writer to go when they write for a living. We have to write on demand, no matter how nasty people have been to us or around us, no matter how sick we feel, frustrated, or angry we are. No matter if the kids are sick, the weather sucks, or any other excuses. The income must come in, and when writing is your business, the writer must write.
Funneling the Energy Into the Writing
I’ve done a variety of things to get past these “bad day” moments over the years.
I’ve sat down and just wrote out all my aggressions, which does wonders for getting it all out on paper and out of your head. That usually does the trick when I’m really pissed off. I’ve rarely published these, and sometimes I don’t even save them. They are just a way of venting.
Occasionally, I will publish some brilliant rants. There is something magical about how the experienced writer’s mind can use the BS of their day to really sharpen their pen (or keyboard) to slice right to the point of an issue. Some of these I’ve published, and gloried over their brilliance even years later. There are times when I wished my muse and a crappy day produced more of those – or at least my muse produced more of those without the crap. I have enough fertilizer in my life.
I’ve shut up my thoughts in the back room of my head and totally focused on what is most important right now, and just gone to work. This tends to leave me with indigestion and farts that last for two days, along with some other even nastier side effects to my digestive system. I try to avoid that option.
I’ve also used the energy and funneled it into my writing. Just because I write on boring technical topics, it doesn’t mean the writing has to be boring. I work hard not to put glitz and glam on my technical articles, but I can in the drafts. During the edits, I can streamline and edit out all those smart ass comments. Some, though, are brilliant so I weave those in, which keeps a little of the sparkle in the prose.
Within a short time, the fury dissipates and I’m back to my normal calm, collected, geeky self. The writer takes over and I pour out the babble that people seem to enjoy and the bank account is serviced again.
How do you clear your head and keep on writing when the demand for the work is there, but the mood isn’t? It’s not easy. Sometimes trying to force it back only makes it worse. Do you find that?
Blog Struggles Article Series
- Blog Struggles: The Search for Blog Content
- Blog Struggles: Ideas and Drafts
- Blog Struggles: The Blog Focus
- Blog Struggles: Why Should Your Blog Have a Focus
- Blog Struggles: Finding Your Blog Focus
- Blog Struggles: Changing Your Blog’s Focus
- Blog Struggles: When Spelling, Grammar, and Punctuation Interferes With Your Blogging
- Blog Struggles: When Are Too Many Comments Too Many Comments?
- Blog Struggles: Taking The Moral High Blogging Ground
- Blog Struggles: Blogger’s Depression
- Blog Struggles: It’s The Rituals That Help Us Focus
- Blog Struggles: Recovering From a Traffic Spike