— Caitlín R. Kiernan writer 1964
Context: Bad writing days are days when you mean to write and can't, or are interrupted so frequently that nothing gets done. I'm disheartened at how often I see the blogs of aspiring writers bemoaning how slowly a book or story is coming along. They have somehow gotten it in their heads that writing is a thing done quickly, efficiently, like an assembly line with lots of shiny robotic workers. The truth, of course, is that writing is usually slow, and inefficient, and more like trying to find a cube of brown Jello that someone's carelessly dropped into a pig sty. Five hundred words in a day is good. So is a thousand. Or fifteen hundred. A good writing day is a day when one has written well, and the word counts be damned. Finishing is not the goal. Doing the job well is the goal. And I say that as someone with no means of financial support but her writing, as someone who is woefully underpaid for her writing, and as someone with so many deadlines breathing down her neck that she can no longer tell one breather from the other. Sometimes, I forget this, that daily word counts are irrelevant, that writing is not a race to the finish line. One need only write well if one wishes to be a writer. A day when one does not do her best merely so that more may be written, that's a bad writing day.
(20 July 2007)