a writer’s guide to surviving mercury in retrograde

Even those who don’t believe in astrology or planetary influence, often agree that there are two movements which genuinely seem to affect people. One is the full moon, the other is Mercury in retrograde. Mercury goes retrograde three or four times a year, and at around 1pm GMT today, it will do just that, and will remain so until October 9th. Let the madness begin!

What the hell does Mercury in retrograde mean?

It means Mercury looks like its spinning backwards in the sky. It isn’t; planets don’t go backwards. But as its moving round, it appears from earth to be moving backwards – you know when you’re driving and you pass another car, or a train, that’s going slower than you, so it appears to be going backwards? This is the same optical illusion.

Whats the problem though?

Well, Mercury is a pain in the arse when it goes retrograde. Mercury rules communications, technology, travel and vehicles so they all tend to go a bit haywire. Travel delays are inevitable, as are system crashes, vehicle breakdowns and arguments. Good times!

Why does this happen?

Who knows? But there is a belief that Mercury has an iron core, so its basically a big magnet passing between the sun and earth. This has never been proven but it kind of makes sense.

Ah, shit! So should I hibernate for the next few weeks then?

Nah, its fine. It’s not all bad by any means. Mercury Retrograde is a time for relaxing and reflection, plus trying to avoid travelling and technology as much as we can. Not always easy in the modern world. The basic rules are – don’t sign, don’t buy, don’t start anything new, watch out for exes, repeat yourself, keep your emotions in check. And as writers, we can make the most of Mercury’s weird effects over the next couple of weeks, so here are some ideas:

  • Work on any half-finished stories that are kicking around
  • Avoid starting new projects – collate ideas but let them sit until Mercury goes direct again
  • Thoroughly review any contracts before signing (if possible, don’t sign them until Mercury goes direct)
  • Back up all documents and files (this should really be done beforehand)
  • Clear out and reorganize your filing – digital and physical
  • Streamline and clear your writing space
  • Always carry a notepad if travelling by public transport – you should do this anyway, but its a great way to make the most of any delays
  • Triple-check any short stories, articles, emails etc before you send them – if errors are going to slip through, now is the time for them to happen
  • Avoid buying a new laptop, or any other technology
  • Don’t take negative comments or reviews personally (this is true all the time, but people can be extra harsh and tactless during this time)
  • Use a pad and pen instead of a laptop/computer
  • Reminisce – read work you wrote a long time ago, read old journals, connect with old friends, and consider how you can learn from the past and use it in the present
  • If you were born during a Mercury Retrograde, now is a great time to write as you become more productive and your mind is sharper
  • Embrace the chaos, and look on every mishap as a great story idea!

Overall, look on Mercury in Retrograde as a positive thing – it’s a great chance to pause and review what needs to be finished. What mental clutter can you tidy up? What projects or loose ends can you finish? Are there any old projects or patterns that you can release? Obviously don’t put your life on hold because some daft planet has decided to faff about, but just slow down a bit. Sit back and observe your life; don’t judge, just let things happen. Decide how you want to move forward. Then, when Mercury goes direct again, you’ll be ready to power ahead too!

Have you ever noticed the effects of Mercury in retrograde? Do you believe stuff like this?


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