Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Signs of a Bad Writing Day

You know you're having a bad writing day when...

•You're convinced that blanking, blinking cursor is mocking you. You can almost hear it saying "Not...writing...not...writing..."

•Your pet has crawled up into your lap, looked at your work, and yawned.

•You've pulled out a calculator and (for fun) figured out how many hours you've spent on this particular manuscript. WARNING: This knowledge will have you (no matter the hour) reaching for a bottle.

• You decide to take a short break from writing. Days pass.

• You realize your decision to write on the computer was an error as you have no physical paper to rip from the typewriter, crumble up into a ball and hurl across the room.

• You have worn a pathway across the carpet with your pacing.

• Cleaning the oven with a toothbrush seems like a more efficient use of your time.

• You decide to close your eyes and just type - who knows something marvelous may appear. You type. You open your eyes to discover your unconscious mind types in a language you don't understand.

• You make the decision you should have more words with 'x' in your manuscript.

• You consider a subtitle for your book: The Book That Will Never Be Finished.

Sometimes you just have to laugh. It helps.

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Elspeth Antonelli is an author and playwright. Her twelve murder mystery games and two plays are available through She has also contributed articles to the European writers' magazine "Elias". Her blog, "It's A Mystery," explores the writing process with a touch of humor. She is on Twitter as @elspethwrites.


  1. Several of these sound very familiar. LOL Mostly the one about the pet. My cat has no interest in my writing whatsoever. Just in whether or not I'm petting him at the very moment he wants me to.

  2. I draw the line at cleaning the oven!

    Morgan Mandel

  3. You use Spider Solitaire for making decisions..."if I win this game, I'll keep this character, if I lose, I'll kill him off."

  4. thanks for the post, Elspeth. I know where the problem is now - if onbly I had physical paper to rip off the typewriter...

    Linda - ditto! only that I say that I need to put my thoughts in order and that sorting crad helps the process. funnily enough, sometimes it does.

  5. Uh-oh, I was actually just considering cleaning the oven....

    Yeah, no, really.

  6. I don't know. Laughing hasn't helped near as much as banging my head on the keyboard. When I do that sometimes a real word gets typed.

  7. Annika; Isn't it upsetting when our pets don't appreciate our talent?

    Morgan; I completely understand.

    Linda; That's brilliant! I shall have to learn Spider Solitaire.

    Kate; There are times when I yearn for the physical release of being able to crumple paper and hurl it across the room.

    Dani; Oh dear. Oh well. This too shall pass. Remember 'tomorrow is another day'. Say it with a Southern accent. It can't hurt.

    Jenny; Go ahead. And if you're willing, I've got an oven that is crying out for cleaning.

    Helen; You can type with your head? This is a sign of true talent.

  8. You've been monitoring my writing schedule, haven't you. LOL

    This was fun. And the comments were a hoot. I need to try Helen's suggestion of banging my head on the keyboard until words form.

  9. Maryann; I certainly going to try it. Yes, pain might be involved, but no one said writing was painless.

  10. If ever I get the urge to do housework, I'm quickly drawn back to writing. It's a great motivator.

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

  11. I've got an oven and a spare toothbrush, if you need them!

  12. Elspeth - It's so nice to know I'm not the only one who has bad writing days.... I'll just get depressed if I think about how many I've had... and that'll lead to another one.

  13. This is funny. I can identify with nearly all of them!!

  14. Terry; I, on the other hand, can do some of best writing (or muttering) while vacuuming. I'm not sure what this says about me.

    Maureen; What a kind gesture. I *know* it's coming from a good place!

    Margot; For the sake of my mental health, I prefer not to dwell on the actual number.

    Heidi; Thanks so much for leaving a comment to let me know you enjoyed it!

  15. Hilarious. I think my self-cleaning oven took away an option.

  16. Angela; Well, there's always a toilet that needs scrubbing.

  17. Curse that blinking cursor! Not sure I ever was stuck so bad I cleaned the oven.

  18. Susan; That blinking cursor can be cruel. As for the whole oven thing, I'm not saying whether or not I've actually been that desperate.

  19. Elspeth, do I have to wear my curtains to say that with a southern accent? I don't know if I'll go that far.

  20. Very good. I use some of these or variations of these. lol

  21. Dani; Sometimes, you've just got to commit to the whole picture.

    Stephen; I'm relieved to learn I'm not the only one!

  22. You wake up on your keyboard...that just happened to me today.

  23. Ha! Yes, when housework seems better than writing, that's a bad day.

  24. Having my new kitten try to edit my work was a bit of a jolt, too.

    Laughing definitely helps...

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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