Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Writing Frustrations

What do you do when doubt creeps into your head?

You’ve got your story underway and suddenly the thought enters, “What am I doing? This is crap. No one’s going to want to read this!”

First of all, you have to figure out if it’s the evil voice or the logical voice speaking. But, how do you do that? Honestly, I’m not sure of the answer, but chances are it is the voice of the evil monkey that lives in your brain. The monkey doesn’t want you to succeed!

Take a step back from your work in progress. Work on something else, a poem, a short story, or even a shopping list. Take a walk, play with your pet, or enjoy a movie.

Chances are when you come back; everything will be fine once again.

As a writer, you can expect these mood swings. If you can learn to anticipate them, you may be able to jump over the rut before you get there. I haven’t actually accomplished this yet, but I have come to acknowledge that it is a routine that is happening. I get frustrated and depressed. I don’t feel like doing anything at all. But, once the cycle has run its course, I’m back to normal, except I’m upset at the hours I wasted in the meantime.

Knowing is half the battle, now it’s time to fight and win.

Do you go through these cycles? What do you do to fight back?


Cherie Reich said...

I go through that, especially with novels. I think it is because you are working on something for so long and then you start to think it all sounds the same and is all crap. It's then I like to step back from a project, write a flash fiction piece or short story, or just read through what I had already written. It's never half as bad as I think it is. :) Then, you get that second wind and can begin writing again. I think a lot of writers go through these cycles. And, I completely agree that knowing these things happen is half the battle. :D

Anonymous said...

Cherie, yes, I agree the length has a lot to do with it.

Anonymous said...

This routine sounds familiar. I go through it at times. I just walk away for awhile. Sometimes too long of awhile. I've got to work on that.

Jennifer Shirk said...

I totally go through about 4 cycles a year of "I suck and what am I doing writing". Luckily, my critique partners are there to talk me off the ledge. :)


This is such a perceptive post, and absolutely captures the odd dynamic of I-love-this-chapter, I-hate-this-chapter that sometimes accompanies the writing process. I like your suggestion of distracting the brain--I'd add distracting it by doing something new and out of one's routine, which seems to work for me. Thanks for putting this out there--very useful.

Anonymous said...

Jennifer, It is good to have close partners during the down times, and the up times for that matter.

Anonymous said...

Samuel, You are welcome and thank you for commenting. I'll keep your suggestion in mind during my next down slide. :)

Anonymous said...

Susanne, It helps a little to know that I'm not alone. I too walk away for too long when I go through these spells.

Terry W. Ervin II said...

I think most writers write the stories they'd like to see on the shelves or online, so if while reading it, it sounds like something you'd like to read overall (remember, the first draft is never perfect) not a problem.

Sometimes a work does need a bit of reconsideration before moving forward...and that's the logical voice mentioned. And like you said, knowing which voice is speaking is at least half the batte.

At least that's how I see it--so we're not too far off.

Anonymous said...

Terry, thanks for leaving your comments.

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