We have all had them.
We have all had those as well.
A friend of my alter-ego's tweeted a while back, "Why is writing so slow for me some days and so awesome on others?" Shortly after, another friend tweeted, "This day is all kinds of wrong.... Yesterday was just so amazing. Today hit me bad."
I, despite being a god, have been there. We have all been there. An incredible day in which you accomplish so much more than you ever planned and you are prepared for the next day to be just as incredible. Then reality comes flying in with its Mjölnir and smashes your expectations to pieces. You get nothing done, and anything you might accomplish takes superhuman effort.
Now, I mean not the times when physical challenges* or mental illnesses get in the way. Neither of those are your fault. But those topics are for another post (or, just click on those links for some great thoughts). Today, I simply mean the days when everything is as simple as it gets, the variables have not changed, but you go from a flurry of get-it-done to feeling like a sloth just trying to keep up.
Why does this happen?
I am sure there are many scientific and logical reasons for it, and we could likely spend many hours contemplating them. However, the fact is they happen. And the way to make them pass is simply to let them pass.
If you are working toward publication in any form, you should already have some type of writing schedule in your life. On those bad days, you will sit at your computer or notebook and wonder whether it's all worth it when the words refuse to come. But I guarantee, sitting and pounding out even one hundred words on that bad day is better than nothing. Keep in mind, whatever you write on a bad day will inevitably receive a polish during revisions, and your readers will (hopefully) not be able to tell the difference between that and your moments of inspiration.
I have a rule for myself. I make myself sit at my designated writing time and write for at least an hour. If, by the end of an hour, I still feel counter-productive, I will get up and do something else during my writing time. (See my last post on things to do while you wait for feedback. Those things apply here as well.) But usually, within the hour I have entered THE ZONE. I'm sure you are familiar with THE ZONE. It is a place extremely hard to enter and far to easy to be pulled from.
Do not pull a writer out of THE ZONE.
Once I am in THE ZONE I can write for hours. I can even switch projects if need be, and go back to them. The point is, I started. That is the most difficult part.
If you have suffered from productivity whiplash, never fear. You are not alone. Get as much done as you can, then let your mind rest. Switch from laptop to handwriting, change projects, or watch a movie. Feed your mind and refuel it, then get back to work as soon as possible. We all need breaks sometimes. But we should never assume the break is permanent.
We are writers. We write. It is what we do.
Now get to work.