Several of my writing friends have been experiencing what I like to call “writing lulls” over the last few weeks. When these happen to me, they generally occur on the back of a depressing experience where your writing is involved. An agent or editor wasn’t as enthused about your work as you are. An author you admire disagreed with your interpretation of a character’s emotional responses. Your writing group tore your manuscript to shreds. Even if well intentioned, these things all hurt on a sublimely personal level.
There are deep, abiding emotions involved in this craft that we call writing.
I’m not going to list them all, but there are so many different emotions authors face every day, every time they turn on their computer to write, or open a file from an alpha or beta reader. We all want what we write to be appreciated and enjoyed. We all want for the stuff we’ve worked so hard on to actually mean something. We all have the fear that we’ll get rejected and we’ll fail. We need to recognize these emotions within ourselves and learn how to deal with them because, simply put, they’re not going away.
Michaelbrent Collings, bestselling horror author and all around purveyor and starlight champion of indie authors everywhere, said it this way:
“Every time I write a book – and I mean EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. – there’s a point where I realize I’m not going to be able to figure the story out, where I know that this is the one where I write total crap and everyone realizes how badly I really suck. Where I understand that THIS is the book that will make me a failure.
I push on. And so far I’ve managed to beat that feeling back long enough to make a liar out of it. But it is among the worst feelings of all, because it is the feeling that I’m not only doomed to fail, and I know it, but I also know that I will fail in a worthless endeavor.
And then, when I’m done, I go and do it again. On purpose.
Sigh. Apparently Momma raised at least one dumb kid.”
He’s right – and he has written literally dozens of bestsellers. It’s an emotional, difficult process for all of us. Every time. And it doesn’t get any easier the more books you write. I only have 3 books out and I’m probably even more nervous now as I writing the next book in the series than I was when I wrote the first book. Why? Because I’ve set my own bar and I have to be better than that bar the next time around. I have to raise the bar each time. And I am my own worst critic
“Just a reminder that there will always be better writers than you. I will never have James Dashner’s crazy imagination, Brandon Sanderson’s world building, or Annette Luthy Lyon’s prose. But I will always be able to write the best J Scott Savage books. And that’s completely okay. People read your stories precisely because they are YOUR stories. Spend less time worrying about whether or not you are as good as someone else, and instead focus on being the best you.”
So keep writing. Yes, you’ll be terrified, nervous, scared, nauseated, frightened, and insecure. You’ll have days, moments, weeks, or even months where you’re convinced that nothing you do will work out. You’ll have projects that you think will get the best of you. There will be days where your crippling social anxiety will live up to its name.
But you’ll get through it. You will overcome it. You will keep writing and getting better and improving. You will do it. Because you are an author. That’s what you do.