Friday, February 6, 2009

Not So Great Aspects of Writing

This week we've been discussing why we write. We listed those reasons and discussed our favorite aspects of writing. Today we'll look at those not-so-great aspects of writing and continue building our SOS sheet.
Why is it that when the doubts come they feel like boulders on our shoulders? They're never tiny nigglers, oh no, they're huge, insurmountable. There were a few times when I lost days of writing to my doubts. I could not move forward. I just kept repeating the same doubts over and over in my head until I was just sick of myself.
I finally told myself to make a decision. Either I'm a writer or I'm not. If I am, well, I have to sit down and write. I have to trust that someday I'll get published. If I'm not a writer, then I have to cancel my writing group memberships, put away the laptop, and give up on my dreams.
Put in those terms, there was really no choice.
I'm a writer.
But, the doubts still come to me now and again. I've found a way to get through them quickly. I have a plan. I've referred to it before: the SOS sheet.
Today, I want you to write down the aspects of writing that drive you nuts. And, yes, I'm sharing my list below.
  • Thinking my idea is no good and giving up on it too soon
  • On the third round of revisions, finding a million mistakes or repetitions that I'd missed the first two rounds
  • Hitting the middle of a manuscript and having no idea what comes next
  • Coming up with a title
  • Trying to figure out the perfect hook
  • Staring at the blank page of Chapter One
  • Getting a rejection
  • Losing a contest
  • Hearing a friend got a rejection
  • Spending any time (even a second) thinking about when I'll get published. I can't do it. It paralyzes me every time. It's an off-limits topic in my brain.
  • Reading a fantastic book and wondering if I could ever be even half that good
  • Reading a lousy book and wondering why I haven't gotten the call
  • Hearing well-intentioned acquaintances ask if I'm published yet. Then getting the stare of pity.
  • Finishing a book 3000 words short of the guidelines and having no idea where to inject more words

You get the idea. I'm sure your list will look very different from mine. The things I find enjoyable may be the ones you dread. And vice versa. Whatever your reasons are, please write them down. They belong on your SOS sheet.

Sometimes we forget that we've already been through the bad phase we're in. That's why it's so important to write these down. When you feel like giving up, just take out the sheet and you'll realize, "oh, that's right. I turn into a raving maniac at this part of the process. I got through it before, I'll get through it again."

Next week we're going to discuss concrete actions you can take to get yourself out of a funk.

Enjoy your weekend!

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