It’s happened. The thing that you thought only happened to reckless fools with crumb-encrusted keyboards ,who type with the skills of an octopus using chopsticks, has actually happened. And it’s staring you in the face. The vacuous space where your ums and ahs, your thesaurus.com treasures and original-but-not-pretentious thoughts is mocking the futility of your efforts. And it’s the worst feeling ever. So, what next? If you’re going to cry, you may excuse yourself now, but don’t be long – you’ve wasted enough time already.
Here’s what to do:
1) Take a deep breath in and slowly close the lid of your laptop.
You want to scream, but instead capture the banshee that’s about to emerge from within and drag her deep into the caves of your chest; inhale. Once you’ve done that, close the lid of your laptop like you would an open-casket coffin of an unsightly cadaver, one that’s probably been mauled to death by a bear. Then, clutch it close to your chest, feel its warmth dissipate in your arms, and take solace in its silence when it turns off. Treat it like the friend who let you down on your birthday- you’re mad, but not mad enough to throw it against the wall, no matter how much you’d love to.
2) Walk on the mild side.
You’ve been stuck behind your screen, unwittingly typing away in vain, probably eating salty snacks and not drinking water. You’re a mess. Clear your mind with some fresh air, you might even get to distract yourself by petting a sad dog that’s waiting for its owner outside a shop. Whatever you do, don’t step into the shop because you know you’ll be heading straight for the wine and jaffa cakes.
3) Pop the kettle on.
If you bought the wine, fine, I don’t blame you. Put on some pjs, Sex and the City and a frozen 4-cheese pizza. But, if you’ve managed to get away with just an insta story of you and the sad dog, make yourself a cup of tea -green, black or fruit, it really doesn’t matter – and make sure you use your favourite mug.
Find yourself a cosy spot on the sofa, chill out and maybe even take your mind off with a zine. Once adequately sedated, bring your mug to your lips, blow across it, and daydream back into time to salvage whatever you can remember of what you’ve lost. Trust me, if your computer forgot to save your work, your brain certainly didn’t – its got your back like that (you can take this moment to give it a high-five in your mind if you’d like. Take a sip of your tea, (hopefully your efforts have prevailed and its not scolding hot) and let its warmth wash over and melt away your anxieties.
5) Purge your mind, then sleep.
You need time away from the crime scene, the murder is far too fresh. Swap the laptop for a good-old fashioned notebook and pen. Write down as much as you can, bullet point phrases and points, maybe even draw pictures of any over-reaching metaphors. Write down the sentences that you know off by heart because you read them back to yourself so many times to jerk off your own ego. When you’ve scraped your mind of the last little bit left, licked the lid, and are satisfied, go to bed. A good night’s sleep will mean that you can wake up refreshed and calm to do the next step.
6) Do it again. But better.
Whatever you can’t remember couldn’t have been that good or important. Your silver-lining is that you’ve just used the most reckless, yet effective, method of editing. Think of yourself as an artist who’s just watched their entire studio of prized paintings go up in flames. Do you stop painting? Paint better. At the risk of starting to sound like Lady Gaga’s Oscars speech, here’s a quote from her actual speech instead: “It’s not about how many times you get rejected or you fall down or you’re beaten up. It’s about how many times you stand up and are brave, and you keep on going.”
So whether you feel like a fool, a failure or dissipated flatulence, at least with the help of the steps above, you’re on the right track.
Baby, you were born this way.