There are things we know we are supposed to do. Floss. Get enough sleep. Eat regular meals. Eat healthy meals. Exercise.
And yet, inertia and incorrect priorities always make us sacrifice the important things. We eat crap and wonder why we feel sluggish. We sleep 6 hours a night and wonder why we are slow and snappish. We don’t floss and wonder why we bleed and get lectures at the dentist office.
And when we feel rather bad or low or like we’re the worst writers in the world, it’s often good to look away from the writing and see if you have covered all of the important things. If it’s been 8 or more hours since your last meal, or you got 4 hours of sleep, or you’ve got a cold coming on, those are all things other than your manuscript that can bring you down. We don’t like to admit it. We don’t like to think that the key to our novel lies inside a turkey sandwich. But our emotions are volatile little toddlers that can explode unexpectedly for reasons we don’t quite understand. And we take it out on unsuspecting things, like our work, or loved ones, or other drivers on the road.
So: you wake up. You’re convinced you’re shit. The world will chew up and spit out your prose. If you ever finish what you’re working on. But you won’t. Because you’re shit.
Hold up: how did you sleep last night? Have you had breakfast yet? Take the dog for a walk. (I do realize that suggesting this on the eve of a huge cold front about to freeze the eastern US solid is bad, but this post is technically evergreen.) Get a shower, get your head on straight. Hug your kids, tell your significant other that you’re grateful for them. THEN look at your work.
It’s possible it’s still shit, sure. I’m not saying all writing is magically better once you eat some eggs. But your attitude about approaching it will be better, and your endurance with writing and editing will be greater. We have to take care of ourselves if we want to accomplish anything.
(That said, you want to explain to me that medical doctors who prove time and again that the brain needs 7-9 hours of sleep a night, often pull 24 hour shifts?)