Sometimes in life, you set out to do a thing (like, for example, write a book), and you hit an unexpected rough patch. When I say rough patch, I mean, it’s difficult to get anything done at all in your regular life. When this happens, you are sometimes tempted to give up on the thing you set out to do (see, writing a book).
Sometimes these horrible days are the best days to write. After all, your characters have days when they feel awful, and they want to give up then. So hey, you have a great insight into how your characters feel, right?
Sometimes there are days when you can feel yourself avoiding the thing that is coming next in the book. Sometimes, your mind seems to be fleeing in the opposite direction of the words that you need to write.
And sometimes you have to give up.
But sometimes there is a bare edge of space between you and your ability to care about the book. If you exploit this narrow margin of emotion, you can write some really brilliant stuff.
The challenge, of course, is in teaching yourself to sustain and maintain that narrow margin, and to structure your life around the teeter-totter of being able to write anything at all, versus walking away.
I believe that we read books in order to suck marrow out of stories. The marrow is the pain, the tearing balance between going on and giving up. I believe that we write words in order to get the pain of life down into a structured form.
So on the days when you feel the urgent need to give up, find out what will happen if you trap your pain and frustration into words.