Bad Writing Day? Here’s how to beat it.

Having a bad writing day? We all have them. You want to write, you have to write, but you just don’t feel like it. And if you don’t feel like writing, what do you about it? I have bad writing days all the time. To overcome them I use a simple mental reframing exercise which I’ll share with you here. First, remember that if you call yourself a writer, then you need to consider writing as your business. Even if you’re not making money at it yet, you will, so long as you keep writing. Do you think anyone who runs a business makes their feelings a precondition of providing their service? Think about it. Can you imagine a baker saying to a customer:
“Sorry, bad baking day. Come back next week."

Can you imagine a surgeon saying to a patient:

"Sorry, bad surgery day. Come back next week.”

Neither of these things would ever happen.

But how many times have you metaphorically hung a sign on your door saying, “Bad Writing Day” and called it a day?

I bet you’ve done it more times than you’re able to count. I know I have.

But now let me ask you an even more important question: 

On those “Bad Writing Days” when you threw in the towel, what did you do for the rest of that day? 

Did you go for a long hike to clear your head? 

Did you grab a coffee with a friend and reconnect?

Did you finally get to that project you’ve been meaning to get to?


You went on social media, or some other time-sucking distraction, and you tortured yourself for not writing.

And you beat yourself up about it all that day, and the day after too.

Does this make any sense?


And yet we do it all the time, myself included. Why?

Screenwriter William Goldman had this to say about the topic:

“The easiest thing in the world to do is not write”. - Willam Goldman

That’s true.

But it’s also true for a chef to say: “The easiest thing in the world to do is not make soup”.

Or for a ballerina to say: “The easiest thing in the world to do is not dance”.

Work is work.

So, as the owner of your business, ask yourself this:

Is it a smart strategy to allow my feelings to dictate whether I’m going to work today?

I’m sure the answer is no.

But if the business paradigm isn’t working for you, let’s look at it from a purely artistic perspective.

The best way to fight your bad writing day is to write anyway.


As a longtime screenwriter I can absolutely promise that if you start typing, and keep typing, the muses will visit you.

The muses like it when you try. Especially on your “bad writing days”.

Jeff Tweedy, a songwriter I admire, said this about his writing process:

"Creativity tends to come around when you’ve got your tools out.” - Jeff Tweedy

So pick up your trusty pen, or fire up your favorite writing software and get to work.

Because there are no “bad writing days” or “good writing days”.

There are only days.

So make the best of today, because it’s the only day you ever really have.

Today I want to share with you a video I posted on YouTube for my new video series the “TV Pilot Masterclass”.

In this video we’ll be looking at the pilot for Netflix and A24’s hit series BEEF. 

BEEF became known for it’s insane twists (and they are bonkers) but what I appreciate about the pilot is how writer and creator Lee Sung Jin builds the twists around character reveals more than plot twists.  

This is why I consider the pilot for BEEF not plot-driven but driven by character. 

In this video, I’ll be breaking down THREE simple and easy techniques all writers can use in their pilots to hook the audience, build empathy, and confound their expectations.

What are these three techniques?  Watch the video and find out!  

Hope you enjoy!

– James

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