So I took a little detour with my reading this month. I've been doing a lot of nonfiction reading lately. One day my sis, Dani Wade, sent me a text: "Go get this book!" The book? Writer's Doubt: The #1 Enemy of Writing (and What You Can Do About It) by Bryan Hutchinson. And you know what? She was 100% right.
This article appeared on The Review Review website -- and my Facebook feed -- last week. After a particularly long and work-heavy month, I was taking a morning of downtime and actually managed to read an article I'm interested in. Yay! I found Black tips encouraging at a time when I'm struggling to handle my workload, deal with medical issues, and still manage to be enthusiastic about revisions on my current novella. It's not easy. But the validation of seeing some of the things I'm trying to tell myself reiterated from an experienced author helped me see that I am on the right path. I'm not delusional. This really is how I should see the world. And yes, "it will get better" is just as much a fact as "the downtimes will come again." Everything has its season; isn't that what Solomon said? :) Here are a couple of the tips I found particularly helpful:
" The best you can do is the best you can do. There’s a fine line between learning from other authors, and trying to be them. Be yourself. There are more than enough different types of readers out there for us all. I can’t tell you how much time I have wasted wishing my work were more 'hip' and 'edgier.' And every single moment was indeed a waste of time. I didn’t even like much of the writing I wanted to emulate. I just liked the attention heaped on the people who wrote it. Write the book you’d most like to read – not the one you think will win over the editor du jour."
How often I have done this! I have lamented not being as good as so-and-so. I've lamented not being able to get my work in front of some big-time agent or editor. I've worried and wondered and agonized over the quality of my work -- and not believed my wonderful editor and critique partners and readers when they say they love it. It's got to stop! Can I doubt? Yes. Can I do it for more than a few seconds? No. As my daughter is fond of saying, "Ain't nobody got time for that."
"You cannot write the pages you love without writing the pages you hate. Nothing that you write is pointless, useless, or unnecessary. The product requires the process. The good days may be more enjoyable, but the tough ones are the ones they’re built upon."
Amen! Telling myself this was the only thing that got me through a period of severe writer's block (and yes, it does exist -- denying it doesn't make it so) over the last six months. I spent so much time agonizing over every word that I trained myself to have panic attacks when I sat at the computer to write. It has taken a lot of time, effort, and patience with myself to come out the other side, and still my confidence is more shattered than intact. That's okay. I'll get there. But it means going through the bad days as well as the good days -- and not being afraid to do so.
The final piece of advice speaks for itself, in my opinion. And, honestly, doesn't just apply to writing. Think about it.
"Don’t believe there are rules. There is only advice. There is only opinion. There are only my experiences and yours and yours and yours. . ."
Check out the full article and all of Black's tips here.
*Photo courtesy of AnimaTigris.