I read somewhere that it is helpful to have a mantra that you repeat over and over to help you get in the mood to write. I’m thinking mine should be something like this quote from Natalie Goldberg. Seriously!  Every day that I don’t write, I chastise myself for not accomplishing what I had intended to accomplish.  Some days I collect people watching notes for my writing. Other days I write a blog. Or, I revise what I wrote the day before (if I was lucky enough that some actual writing took place the day before) Then, there are days when all I get written is a couple of pages in my personal journal. I love the days when I work two or three hours straight on my novel, but it doesn’t always happen.

As I write this, I’m sitting in a hotel room, thinking about all the writing I have not done on the family vacation that is just ending.  And even though I tell myself I have collected lots of “material”for possible future books, and that I have spent two weeks fuelling my imagination, it is hard not to feel guilty and/or disappointed that the two projects I currently have in the works, have not progressed even one page. How will I reach the end at this rate?

And so, I dig out this quote from one of my favourite authors and mentors, Natalie Goldberg, and tell myself that it is an ideal. That I will get back into routine at home, and that there is no point in passing judgement on my temporary lapse in writing.


The dilemma, of course, is that being consistent and persistent is such an important part of creating that, while we don’t want to beat ourselves up over not writing on a given day, we want to make writing a habit. Here are a few ideas to help on those days where large chunks of writing time are not available:

  • Write for fifteen minutes when you first get up. before doing anything else.
  • Make a conscious effort to jot down observations of people, reactions, conversation snippets, situations, settings, anything out of the ordinary, on your phone notepad or on a paper notepad that you carry with you (at all times-right?)
  • Take as many photos as you can so that you remember details.
  • Write while you wait for appointments or to pick up the kids from school. I always leave early to pick up my daughter from school so that I can get a close parking spot. I take my computer and write a page or two while I wait. I know of an author who writes in short snippets of time throughout her day. She keeps track of how long she writes at a time and makes sure that she gets at least two hours in each day, even if it is in short bursts.
  • If all else fails, follow Natalie Goldberg’s advice. Tomorrow is another day!

Published by Lois Donovan

Author of historical time travels, THE JOURNAL and WINDS OF L'ACADIE, Lois is in demand as a speaker/presenter at literary conferences and young writers' conferences and teachers conventions. Lois grew up primarily in Riverview, New Brunswick, but has called Calgary home for many years. Currently, Lois enjoys life in Calgary with her husband, daughter, son and daughter-in-law.

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