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Down in the Writing Dumps…

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I saw this image on Pinterest and I just had to save it. I think every writer goes through this.

Right now I’m most certainly feeling the images on the right. There are times when I don’t feel like writing. Just opening up Scrivener – no, just looking at the icon on my desktop – makes me cringe.

Since Camp NaNoWriMo ended I have written all of 16,000 words. 16,000 words in the past 37 days. How is it that I can pound out 50,000 words in less than 30 days, but the following 37 days I can’t even break 20k? Even though I took a week off after Camp, that’s still 30 days, and all I’ve been able to write is 1/4th of what I was able to write in April.

Why is that? Why is it lately that every time I sit down to write it feels like a chore and not something that I enjoy? Why is it that as I’m typing the words, my mind wants to drift off until I eventually find myself browsing Facebook or Twitter? Or finding something that needs done in the house?

I think I know why. This image describes it exactly. Sometimes I feel like my scenes are hideous. I feel like my story is awful. I feel like I’m a despicable writer. And lately, all I feel like doing is sobbing because I’ve been telling myself that my writing will never amount to anything more than “meh”.

It’s a combination of a lack of self confidence, too high of expectations, and a lack of stick-too-itiveness. In April I had a goal of just simply writing. In April I had a goal of not caring if I get published. In April I just wanted to say I wrote a book. In April I wasn’t comparing myself to other writers, I just wanted to tell my story. In April I just wanted something that I could leave to my children when I’ve left this world; something that I could be proud of.

For some reason, my goal has morphed into much more. I want to be published. By TOR no less. I want to be found in bookstores. I want to be told my story is excellent. My characters believable. My scenes intriguing. I want people to tell me that my writing is a million times better than anything I wrote ten years ago and ask me why didn’t I stick to it back then because I could have written this a long time ago.

I want to be told this, because it’s not what I think of myself. I think, “What else have you written, Amanda? A couple pieces of flash fiction almost ten years ago – romance fiction at that – and you think you can just step into the world of fantasy writing? You think you can call yourself even remotely ready for any sort of publishing just because you’ve managed to write 50,000 words? Crappy words I might add. Words that suck and are going to need editing a dozen times. Call it quits now. You don’t even have a chance at publishing traditionally anyway. Those publishers are going to chew you up and spit you out. You have no online presence. You have no style. You have no talent. You haven’t even developed your own writing voice yet. Do you really think anyone is going to be even remotely interested?”

To which I reply to myself, “But I’m interested. Every time I go back and read previous chapters I become engrossed in it. I want to keep reading as if I’m reading someone else’s work. Doesn’t that count for something?” That’s when I start getting impatient. I want to start editing what I have so far. I get excited and I think maybe, just maybe, I might be able to do this.

That’s when my self doubt comes back and gives me the same argument as before. Instead, what I need to do is get back into the mindset I had in April. Write for the joy of it. To say I’ve finished a novel and be proud. Then take a step back and breathe. After some time away, I can come back and go through the first edit. Only then should I start thinking about possible publishing. And as much as the thought feels like a needle stabbing me in the heart, I need to forget about TOR. Sure I can submit an inquiry, but I shouldn’t expect or even hope for any sort of positive response. This is my first novel after all.

I know that may sound pessimistic, but I’ve always been one to think “Hope for the best, but expect the worst.” If I get lucky, I get lucky. It’s not like I don’t know the amount of work involved before I will even be close to that point. I’ve done my research. The problem is, I’ve done so much research that I think I’ve overloaded my brain.

What I need to do now is re-wire it. Go back to the excitement of April. The can-do-it attitude and the thought of “I don’t care if this is published. I just want to finally say I’ve done it.”

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4 thoughts on “Down in the Writing Dumps…

  1. Amanda, Crikey. I could have written this. I just this moment finished a gabillionth revision of a manuscript and it’s off Monday to a story editor. It’s crap. I’m spending oodles of money to have someone tell me it’s a worthless mess of a story, I just know it. But there’s this tiny, shimmering thread of hope that maybe … maybe … maybe it isn’t. And it was written with so much joy. the writing of it gave me so much joy. Thank you for reminding me that’s the point. The fulfillment of souls, not our external successes, is the point. Carry on. You will get it done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks!
      I’ve heard it said that the hardest part of writing a novel is actually finishing it. I figure if I can at least get past that part – I’m golden. 🙂

      Good luck with your editor. I hope they return it with minimal red marks and comments.
      Wait…wouldn’t that mean you’d be spending oodles of money for someone to tell you they didn’t need to do anything? Maybe you should want the red marks. I’m not sure. Now I’m confused!! LOL

      Like

  2. I think we all (writers, artists) ride this roller coaster of desire and despair. I think, by nature, creative people are emotional and sensitive and in so many ways that is what makes us awesome artists. (When was the last time a Vulcan produced a work of art?) It took me four years to write my book, and it morphed a hundred times during writing. Of the 200,000+ words that went into that story, only about 74,000 survived in its final form. By the end, I just wanted the darn thing to be read, and even though self-publishing felt like a cop-out, I was impatient and entirely eager to get the feedback I really wanted. I had to Let Go. What was also great about that was that I got to a point where I no longer cared how people perceived ME as a writer – but I was for the first time genuinely interested in how they reacted to the story. I actually crave constructive feedback, not praise. I edit in layers, not usually whole story chunks, once I’m “finished.”

    I still hold out a fantasy that a TOR or equivalent publisher will magically find and fall in love with it, and it will then become a bestseller. But right now, it’s more about finding new stories, continuing this one, and moving on. I try not to let myself sit for too long in a struggling mode. I find another story to get out, get it rolling, then come back when something clicks.

    I don’t always feel like writing (I started Camp Nano with a bang, then fizzled to zero, so you got me beat at 16k!) but I know a good writer forces herself to write every day, routinely, even i it’s just crap. Don’t be afraid to write crap, and don’t be disappointed when you do. I’ve false-started my sequel six times (about 60,000 words wasted – hey that’s its own novel! “The Six False Starts… by Ingrid Moon” LOL). Chin up, hang in there, write write write, and let go of the inner critic, the inner editor; use the mood swings and hopes and dashed hopes to power your characters and actions. At some point, you have to let go, stop tweaking, stop worrying. Unless you have a professional (AND I DO MEAN PROFESSIONAL) book editor giving you pointers, your novel is probably more than good enough. Get an agent, let them work with you, the publisher will provide the editor, and soon it will be perfect. But let go of the story.

    This has been a public service message from the deep heart of people who ride the roller coaster.

    Liked by 1 person

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