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Wednesday was one of the strangest days I’ve had in recent writing. I woke up sore, and it took half an hour to get my joints to agree to rise. The syndrome pain was a little worse than usual, enough to make concentrating difficult. It seemed the harder I tried to focus, the less I could hold on, and so it was two hours before I hit my proper flow in composition.
The above isn’t so strange. Nor was it so strange that hitting my daily 1,000 words left me mentally exhausted, unable even to follow a television show. The syndrome seemed to insist on worsening, and I hit exercise as early as possible to head off what was coming.
I almost passed out stepping off the elliptical. My body was furious with me for trying to exercise, summoning its typical muscle spasms and joint-locking. I tried to soak and found we were out of hot water. I made tea that was too bitter no matter what I put in it. My typical healthy dinner felt entirely unfilling, yet I couldn’t figure out what else to eat. My nightly check-in with my grandfather was unusually rough, as his dementia was acting up, leaving him aware that he couldn't finish his own sentences, and very frustrated with it. There was nothing appealing on television, the internet seemed dry of anything except partisan bitching, and thanks to the atrocious Battle.net, Diablo 3 was lagging to unplayable levels. I couldn’t even sell off my old gear at their Auction House because their authentication scheme required devices I don’t own.
When I tried reading A Feast for Crows, I found I was in that dead zone near the center with all the extraneous new characters that fans found boring. I confess thinking that if I was going to do anything with words tonight, it ought to be producing them, not consuming Martin’s chapter about a knight fingering a pregnant woman.
Tea, dinner and books are all supposed to calm me down from writing, yet with every passing hour I got worse. By 10:00 PM I was a rigorously unpleasant human being to be around. And so I gave up on everything else, and just dove back into the manuscript. I fell into a sweet spot where I was just uncritical enough to produce and critical enough to streamline that I lost track of time.
By midnight, even with a hazy mind, I was up to 3,000 words. It was my single most productive day writing in years. Loving this novel certainly helps, but I loved it yesterday and only logged half that progress. It’s more perplexing because I’ll typically give writing a shot no matter how burned by the syndrome my mind gets, and usually I fail or only make it a little ways in.
I’ve been pushing my limits for the last several weeks. 40,000 words in 26 days is hoofing it by my history. I’ve been discovering ways to trick myself into working more, or returning later. Where evenings were impossible last year, they’re back as creative times now. Still I’m wondering how Wednesday night worked. I didn’t just add several thousand words; I corrected a bunch more, all while hardly able to sit up, sometimes leaning on the desk for support. And I know I laughed often doing it.
Has anyone else had such experiences, in their mental or emotional wastelands? Are they outliers for you, or are you used to them?