12 Things to Tell Yourself When You Need to Write On a Bad Mental Health Day

Breaks and rest days are important, but sometimes you don’t have the option of “not writing. The show must go on.

1 It’s OK to not be OK — but technically you can still write when you’re not OK.

2. The things that are bothering you will still be there when you are done with your work. But once you’re done with your work, you will be free (and hopefully guilt free) to do whatever you want and need to do to deal with those things.

3. Even writing that’s considered “work” can be therapeutic. Just because it isn’t fiction doesn’t mean it can’t help you stay grounded for a little while.

4. It’s OK to admit that you are struggling. If you can, reach out for help.

5. You will feel a thousand times better if you try and don’t succeed than you will if you don’t try at all. On my worst days, I always spend a little time trying to write just in case it sparks some much needed inspiration. You never know until you at least give it a go.

6. It’s OK if it’s not your best work. No one can expect you to be “on” all the time. Do the best you can.

7. Starting is the hardest part. It’s a little easier once you start. So start! You can do it!

8. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You obviously need to give yourself a break, but until you can actually physically rest, you need to talk yourself up, not continue to wear yourself down. Say positive things even if you aren’t sure you really mean them. You might just need to hear it’s going to be OK.

9. Give yourself a specific block of time for “getting distracted.” Instead of falling into your go-to distractions when you should be working, give yourself a small break — and permission to not do work for a short amount of time — before going back to writing.

10. You might not be able to write as much as you wanted to write today. And guess what? That’s OK. You’re not a “failure” for having to take a step back and give yourself room to breathe.

11. The simple act of checking off a box or two on your to-do list can change everything. Do a few simple tasks, cross them off your list, and go into your writing session feeling more confident and prepared.

12. You can do this. It might not seem like you can right now. But you can. Just keep telling yourself that until it’s finally done.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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