Writing; a bit like sailing

Sailors will tell you making progress in any direction is better than making no progress at all. That’s a lesson for the frustrated writer if ever there was one. Keep going, no written words are ever wasted.

On a yacht we can’t sail directly into the wind so we head off in a direction we can make, sails tightened-in as far as they’ll go. Then we tack and then we tack again, and again. By means of this zigzagging course we make progress towards our upwind destination, impossible as it might seem.

Sometimes there’s a tidal current running against us and this means we might actually make negative progress; we’re creeping towards our goal but the water we’re sailing on is moving away from it. But the experienced sailor knows this is only a temporary setback, the tide will eventually turn, then we’ll have it pushing us towards our goal.

Just like writing, isn’t it? Some days you have the wind on your beam, you can’t do a thing wrong, a couple of thousand words of scintillating prose pour onto the page. Yipee! Another day the wind is on the nose and you toil for hours but end up with nary a word writ.

Think like a sailor. Any progress is good and it’s the average progress over time that matters. At times you surge forward effortlessly, at others you fight an upwind battle against mighty waves and ferocious winds.

And sometimes you leave the boat at the dock and go and do something else.

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