Is your latest writing project not going well? Do you seem to hit one dead end after another?
That’s what happened with my current work-in-progress. I recently shared how before I publish my debut novel, Pennies from Burger Heaven, I want to first publish an expanded version of my nonfiction eBook, Creative Monsters. I gave it to you in January and wanted to add stories and exercises to it to help writers even more with their struggles on the page.
Except the new version wasn’t going well. At all. Everything felt wrong about it: the title, the format, even the target audience. It was more than jut good, ol’ fashioned Fear.
So, what do you do when…
You don’t know what to do?
Houston, We Have a Problem
My project fell apart about one-third into it. I know from experience if you stick with it, this is where the book stops being what you thought it should be and becomes the book it’s meant to be.
It’s terrific once you have that epiphany, but it’s torturous while you’re still finding your way.
When I’m seeking answers about my writing and my life, I journal. Since that is almost always, I journal everyday.
The trouble was I was journaling like a mad woman about my book dilemmas, but still had more questions than answers. I kept a list of them all because they were so confusing. Here’s a MPW post I love: How to Make the Right Writing Decision.
I tried to look normal for my family. My husband and two teens are wonderful and avid readers, but writing is a language they do not speak. They’re lack of understanding would just add to my distress.
I journaled for well over six weeks straight, but felt no progress. I decided to talk to my critique group.
Who are the people you turn to for writing advice?
They do not have to be writers. They just have to be trustworthy with your heart. If your wife always complains how much time your hobby takes, but what little results it yields — don’t ask her. Don’t ask your frenemy from writing class who always leaves you feeling ‘less than.’ Don’t ask your grad-school adviser whose approval you constantly sought, but never quite attained.
Ask someone who understands how precious your writing is to you. If you have no such person in your life, I’m always here to help. There are also publishing professionals: writing coaches, freelance editors, etc. Just make sure they’re reputable.
Something interesting happened to me. I’d been considering writing this post about my complications in my journal one day when a MPW reader emailed me. We were catching up with each other and I was honest how my book was going nowhere fast.
Ching said, “Don’t worry about your Creative Monsters project. You’ll be able to do it, I know you can…sometimes it pays to have people there to help you, and we ARE there to help you. It’s not just the other way round, you know.”
I needed that reminder. Thanks, Ching!
That email seemed to be confirmation of the next, right action for me. My critique group also said I had many more solutions than I thought. I was too close to my own project to see the answers staring right at me.
To Recap, what do when you don’t know what to do:
- Journal to find answers to all your writing struggles: plot, publishing problems, which step to take next.
- Reach out to trusted friends or even consider paying a publishing professional for guidance.
Top 7 Writing Struggles
I’ve received well over 1,000 emails here at MPW. Many answer this simple, but important question, “What’s your #1 writing struggle?”
This new book explains the top seven struggles I’ve learned from your responses, plus exercises to help with the creative process. My hope is if The War of Art married The Artist’s Way and had a baby, it’d be this book. Please note, these are not Merriam Webster’s definitions for each fear. They’re Marcy’s mash-up of our anxieties:
- Self-doubt – You’re pretty sure everything you write sucks. No one would ever want to read such crap.
- Perfectionism – The crap you write is so far from flawless you either keep: a) starting over, b) rewrite it forever, or c) can’t even muster the courage to put words onto a page.
- Procrastination – You suddenly become interested in anything besides writing (or publishing-related tasks). Your home is spotless.
- Self-sabotage – Procrastination on steroids. Not only do you avoid writing, but you hurt yourself in the process (this can be as mindless hours of TV research to alcoholism).
- Jealousy – Hating another writer’s success or talents to the point if you knew how to make a voodoo doll to curse them — you would.
- Sabotage by Others – Letting others make you feel guilty about your writing (sometimes, you even quit altogether).
- Criticism – Others letting you know how much you suck to the point it hurts your writing (again, sometimes, you quit).
Before my epiphany, I liked all the information and exercises I had for each struggle. I began each new section with a different story from my career.
That was the problem. I don’t want this book to be about me. I want it to broader, to tell a bigger story. The universal struggles all writers face.
I need other perspectives. I’d said that in the very beginning, but somehow forgot. Fear is a master at amnesia and scrambling your thoughts to make it difficult to write.
Want to be in My Book?
Tell me, which fear you battling most with your writing? Please note, I really need more stories about numbers 4 – 7: self-sabotage, jealousy, sabotage by others and criticism. I’d love it if you left a comment so others can see they’re not alone with their Fears. However, if your anecdote is too private, then you’re welcome to also email me with the specifics: email@example.com.
I have no idea which stories I’ll use. It depends on the number of response. It may be a lottery process where I select you at random, or whichever stories seem fit best. If I do use yours, I’ll ask your permission and will only use your first name, or will even change it to something else if you prefer.
I’m happy to report my new book is going much better since I solved this mystery.
I hope the same is true for you and your writing. Remember, if you’re persistent (and maybe reach out to others for direction), you’ll find the answers to your problems (on and off the page). Good luck.
From the list above 1-7, which is your top writing struggle?
Please leave a comment. I’d love to chat.
Pick up your FREE copy today of the mystery, The Moon Rises at Dawn (SkipJack Publishing). Read, enjoy, repeat.
I am new to writing and have never completed a book yet, but I have been stalled with the project I was so excited with by my own self-doubts and my husband’s half-hearted comments (he sees anything I do as time away from him). I found a solution though: keep quiet about what I am doing and to get me excited about the novel again, I change things around: think up a reason and turn the male protagonist into the male antagonist and vice versa. Once I look at what I plotted, I now have to come up with new explanations for earlier behaviour and simply change or delete what does not fit. My husband has no idea what the story is about now and we do not discuss it. This keeps the peace and sabotage to a minimum. Hope this helps… Thank you for your encouragements – they are really useful.
Marcy Mason McKay
Sonja – thank you for your honest comment. Even though I am a morning person and it’s true my best writing is 5-7 am…all true. However, I started this when my kids were young (3 and a newborn) partly so my husband couldn’t complain about time away from him. That was two hours everyday for my writing, but before anyone else in our family was awake + whatever time I could sneak away over lunch (I worked full-time).
I do not know if this would work for you, but it’s just a suggestion. I don’t know the specifics of your situation, but wish you all the best and hope you WILL keep writing. Even if your husband doesn’t fully realize it, your writing makes you a better wife.
You’re welcome to email if you want to talk about this further. I appreciate you sharing.
Wow, pick one when I can relate to all of them? All right, I would say right now I struggle with 4. Self-sabotage.
I have, this great story (at least I think it’s great) that I have completed a first and second draft. I know it is still needs more revising. Then I had the brainstorm of instead of one book based on my idea, why not make it a first book in a series.
Great right? Now I am stuck doing hardly any work on it, while more ideas for other stories fill my brain. I have been a Facebook junkie, watching all these great authors launching their books and I am too busy celebrating with them instead of creating my work.
I know fear of not being good enough, plays a huge role as well as the fact that right now, I am without a job for the first time in over 29years. I have a wonderful supporting husband and kids, so I can’t wrap my head around why I can’t finish what I started. I even feel guilty about writing this instead of working on my book. Lol
Again, I relate! hehehe
Marcy Mason McKay
Precious, Tina – though I hate this is happening, I really appreciate your honesty. Yep, you’re definitely sabotaging yourself…especially since your husband and kids are on your side. I can’t help, but wonder….are you a bit of a perfectionist, too?
No matter. I hope you’ll let your finish that first story…let it be as awful and crappy as possible. Just get something on the page. I think it’s famed Romance author, Nora Roberts, who says, “Anything can be fixed, but a blank page.”
I agree with Tina. I can relate to all of them truly. I have written many novels–finished & unfinished, due to NaNoWriMo. What I do most is procrastinate. Television, having two very active teens along with my workouts are always a deterrent from the cause of writing. Self-sabotage becomes a factor because “I’m too exhausted. I need rest first. I’ll set and not think of anything and let the TV think for me.” I also suffer from a chemical imbalance (just being honest) and use that as an excuse until I get back on my medication regularly.
I have co-authored three books (working on fourth) with my local library community novel project and although I received great comments on a couple of the books I continue to feel that I may not be good enough alone (after all the best novel, in my opinion for me, was the one where my sister and I wrote together).
I do see friends (and my sister) around me writing and informing me of their finished and published books and although I encourage them and lift them up deep inside I become more doubtful and feel as if I’m never going to get my books done. That is when my feelings of jealousy comes into play but I never discourage them but push them to continue on. I get a bit jealous of my sister because she doesn’t work at all and does nothing but read, write and watch movies yet spews out book after book. I’m proud of her yet I envy her free time without exhaustion.
I do know that when I wrote my first book and showed a couple of my co-workers I got more positives than I did negative (one only). However that negative was enough to make me quit although I smiled and felt maybe I’m not as good as I thought. When others (even my husband) read it and stated they could visualize what I wrote. Which is my goal–to have the reader see the vision as I do or similar to what I’m seeing.
Like Sonja, I feel guitly because I really do have more free time but use it incorrectly to the point that when I should be writing or adding to my novel instead I’m writing in your blog…but I felt that your article just pulled on my innards in every way that I had to respond.
“That is when my feelings of jealousy comes into play but I never discourage them but push them to continue on.”
Oh my – this is so me. I keep telling myself that even if my mind is a cesspool of negativity, my actions will always be positive (and overpower the evil monster in my head!)
Marcy Mason McKay
I can relate 100%, too, Kitto!
Marcy Mason McKay
Coffee – you are AWESOME. You’re courage to claim your jealousy is admirable. You have talent…I can see in your comment here, as well as what you’ve accomplished.
You play the nice girl on the outside, but your inner writer is SCREAMING that you aren’t claiming for yourself the success and your other writer peeps are.
Your jealousy is like a blinking neon sign telling you that’s what it wants for you, too.
I’m not trying to push myself on you, but I wrote a really popular post on Best Seller Labs: How Jealousy can Make You Insanely Successful: http://bestsellerlabs.com/successful/
Read it. I hope it helps. TY!
Reality about the wonder of great writers I read is holding me back. I am not jealous, instead I do feel appreciation for published authors I know and read. I don’t see this as a flaw, but I realize I am still in the learning phase of writing. We should all continue to be inspired by those whose writing is “pitch perfect” and improve at our own speed and pace. What do others think?
Marcy Mason McKay
Great point. I definitely think we should always remain inspired by fabulous stories. I’m lucky enough to be a weekly critique group with three traditionally-published authors. I see first-hand that published writing that is pitch perfect doesn’t start that way.
It takes time, patience and practice for ANYONE to achieve that level of excellence. Keep reading and stay in awe of these wonderful authors, but I HOPE you won’t let it keep holding you back. None of your favorite authors started out that way. Everyone is a newbie in the beginning. Good luck!
How many stories about jealousy do you need? 😉
I have struggled with comparisons all my life.
One particular episode comes to mind.
For some weird reason, I hate to see girls from MY country do better than me. Nothing brings out the Mr. Hyde in me than watching an Indian girl (of my age) win accolades, awards and unconditional applause.
A very good friend of mine is a gifted storyteller whose short stories have been featured in anthologies. She runs a successful blog with an active comment section, while my blog gets crickets! 😉 Of course, she updates her blog regularly, while I don’t, but who cares about rationale when the jealousy monster is chipping away at my soul!
I hit the tipping point on a glorious Summer afternoon in 2014. One of her short stories was wildly admired by her readers, which brought stinging tears of shame, jealousy and sorrow to my eyes.
I slammed my computer, muttered a few cuss words (directed at her) and stomped out of the house to the back yard, where my puppy was gleefully playing with his chew toy.
I watched him bask in the sunshine, my heart still pumping evil blood. I am sure a careful observer would have seen the smoke of anger sizzling out of my ears. I buried my face into my arms and bawled for ten-fifteen minutes.
I thought of quitting my journey as a writer, “Why bother when I can never get as good as her and no one will ever love me as much as her!”
*Sigh* Remember here that I have a ton of friends and acquaintances who enjoy me and my work – but, again, logic is thrown out of the window when jealousy ravages you!
Anyway, fifteen minutes later, my husband came home and distracted me unknowingly. An hour after his return, i began smiling and thought back to my disgusting behavior.
I felt horrible for ‘cursing’ my friend’s talent and tenacity. Instead of emulating what she was doing right, I had submerged myself in a fog of despair.
When the smoke fizzled and the fog cleared, I realized one truth: I don’t EVER want to be like her (OR HER). I just want to be ME.
I am uniquely talented with a refreshing combination of emotions and experiences. No one can ‘write’ like me, just like no one can write like her. We each have a place in this enriching world of writing.
Our craft is pure and loves each one of us.
I am sorry, dear friend, for being such a petty monster! I am proud of you and always will be <3
Of course, 6 months later, I over-reacted once again after reading the winning entry of a writing challenge. The winner's peerless ability to VIVIDLY recreate a place without even visiting it almost shamed me. Thankfully, I didn't spend much time moping this time, instead venting in a trusted Facebook group.
The encouragement of those group members spurred me to ditch the cloak of jealousy and take pride in MY work.
I won the same writing challenge the next month. 🙂
Bottom-line, when you find yourself in a pit of despair, seek help IMMEDIATELY! You need an objective cheerleader to guide you safely and reignite your innate passion, intuition and determination 😀
LOVE you, Marcy! #HUGS
Now I had read a wonderful piece written by you and although I felt your pain I also felt your victory. I begin to smile and know that you will become an over-comer! Blessings to you Krithika.
Aww – thanks <3
Marcy Mason McKay
You’re the best, Kitto. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Jealousy is a NORMAL human reaction, ESPECIALLY when it’s someone you know. I’m glad you’ve found ways to move beyond your pity party and get back to work. And, you’re right…don’t be HER. There’s only one out there and she’s doing just fine at it
Be the best Kitto you can be. This friend of yours sounds like she’s working pretty hard: writing, blogging, entering contests, etc.
You may not want to be HER, but if you need to produce more, then do it. You’re talented, Kitto. People are drawn to you. I wish I could duplicate the enthusiasm you give to others and give just a smidge to yourself.
#HUGSS Thank you – loveee you <3
#3 and #4 from the Chinese Restaurant Menu. I am my own worse enemy. That habit of writing something every day, every single day, is one of the easiest habits to break. The latest episode of “Mad Men in the House of Thrones” can interfere. March Madness can monopolize. After all, as the saying goes, “Writing is easy. All you have to do is open a vein.” The only way I can do it (write) is to make it a part of the day’s accomplishments.
Marcy Mason McKay
I am so familiar with self-sabotage and procrastination, th. Let me just throw out an idea: don’t think all or nothing. You don’t have to give up TV in order to write. I take rough drafts of these posts to my weekly writing group and they seem to like the ones I crank out in 30 minutes over the ones I spend HOURRRRRS struggling with.
One write scene/poem/section for 20 minutes, then watch “Mad Men in the House of Thrones” (clever, btw) guilt-free. The next day, either crank out new work for 20 minutes, or edit what you wrote the day before. Whatever works best for you.
To me, I just have to keep trying different things until I find what clicks for me. And what worked 6 months ago, may not work now. We just have to keep TRYING.
Thank you for writing this post. I usually don’t comment on posts, or on anything for that matter; however, seeing that your post concerns the struggles writers face and the fact that my own reasons for never commenting publicly on anything is deeply rooted in my own sense of self-doubt and the fear that someone will eventually, or what would be more likely, possibly, read what I have to say and, heaven forbid, disagree with me prevents me from sharing my writing and my opinion with others. The sad consequence of this is that many people do not know me very well. I am a deeply private and reserved individual around strangers and because of this those people have no idea as to the methods with which I can express myself; this is quite possibly true for the people who think they know me as well.
However, today, your post struck a chord with me, and I’d like to share with you the many ways that I, as a 24-year-old aspiring writer, have struggled with all seven of the burdensome struggles a writer could be tasked to endure.
Self doubt. Even as I write this I am beginning to doubt whether or not I should even continue. Already this nasty urge to ‘select all’ and hit ‘delete’ has overcome me. Throughout my, albeit, short-lived time as writer I have experienced the overwhelming sense that I am wasting my time writing. Pursing my degree in creative writing did a few things to balance this feeling, while I quickly learned that fantasy fiction was a big no-no in the academic workshop setting, I also learned, once I began submitting ‘acceptable works of fiction’, that apparently my work didn’t entirely suck. Back then at least I had that feedback. But now, I have no one, and my husband doesn’t count, not really, because he loves me and loves everything I write no matter what. I guess I haven’t really tested that theory though and thrown at him some truly awful concoction filled with sweeping leaps in logic and such, but the point is, I have always doubted my ability to write.
Perfectionism. I find my struggles with perfectionism to be particularly profound when it comes to my treatment of my own poetry. I can write a poem and revise it until it feels absolutely perfect to me, until I can feel the rhythm in each stanza, until each word is so on pointe that I couldn’t find a better one even if I spent a year scouring through a dictionary trying to do so. Yet, I can come back a week later, read the same poem that I was doing summersaults over just the week before and crumple it up into the tiniest wad of paper I can manage, growling at if for being the dumbest thing I had ever written.
Procrastination. I’ve started to notice a pattern as I write. I start, then I stop, I pick it back up again, and then I get discouraged, so I stop again and then for some reason start back up again. At this point it has become a predictable cycle that I have come to realize I just need to break through in order to end the craziness of it all. It begins with the monster of self-doubt creeping in the corner and then I cycle through re-writes and end up simply putting it all off because I can’t take my own frustration anymore. Usually I try writing something else, unsuccessfully, of course, because I have no sense of focus at this stage and I tend to wander around aimlessly for a few months, yes, months, doing anything and everything else but writing. I eventually get back to it when I realize how desperately I miss it and how my life is so utterly incomplete without it.
Self-Sabotage. The level of intimacy by which I am familiar with self-sabotage is downright miserable. In fact, I actually struggled, for years, with depression as a result of my own self-sabotage. Now, to be fair, this wasn’t entirely due to the fact that I put off my own writing and doubted its validity; however, if I were to be completely honest with myself, then I would have to admit that my writing certainly played a role in the years I struggled with depression. In a way, a very unhealthy way I must add, I considered the value of my writing to be in direct proportion to my own self-worth and since I didn’t have a very high opinion of my own writing ability, well, without going into too much excruciating detail, you can assume the level of esteem that I had for myself.
Jealousy. I often felt this in college during workshops. I would read a particularly promising piece from one of my peers and would immediately be green with envy at their ability to put so many words down on paper, or at the uncanny way they were able to develop their main character in a matter of a few paragraphs, or even the heartbreaking way they weaved together their story that I just had to read it again to feel that sudden feeling of loss once more. Each time I ran across a story or a poem like this I felt completely floored. I wondered how I was even supposed to compete with something like that, how I was supposed to even compare to a piece that made me feel so much, and I began to question if my own work had the ability to evoke that type of emotion. Yet, of course, the most critical side of my subconscious, always the easiest to be found even when it is absolutely not needed, would rear its ugly head and respond with a resounding “NO”. To this day I think of authors and writers who inspire me and I cringe at the thought that I aspire to be recognized among their ranks one day. I am utterly jealous of their ability to write, to complete full-length works and to be published, plain and simple. Yet, mercifully, my jealously does not stop me from writing entirely, it can, and often does, spark my interest and my desire to chase after the dream of being recognized as an author to read alongside those who I admire most. Thanks to my jealously, I am spurred to continue writing, because although I envy the authors who I adore and whose books I practically worship, deep down I too desire to be envied.
Sabotage by Others. A lot of my writing struggles have been self-imposed. For sabotage by others, it isn’t that someone has seen my work and criticized me openly for it, but rather the fact that I fear what my writing will say about me if others read it; this is in large part why I keep so much of it to myself. The few stories and poems that I have posted on my blog are just a sampling of what I have up my sleeve. The rest I either have tucked away somewhere on my hard drive or haven’t mustered the courage to write yet.
Criticism. Again, all of my fears are self-imposed. I’m far too private to really get out there with my writing and, as a result, be truly affected by the opinions of others; the closest I came to that was in college and that wasn’t enough for me. However, despite my lack of being exposed to the criticism of others that doesn’t mean that I am not a highly imaginative person who devises ways by which people could trample all over my work. Of course I don’t need to imagine what other people would think of my writing. I could spend a matter of seconds tearing apart my own writing, getting frustrated at different phrases and the ways I insist on expressing myself, and after essentially ripping it to shreds decide to metaphorically toss it into the trash, which is what I am currently feeling compelled to do this moment; however, I have resolved to post this regardless of how desperately I would rather not.
Alas, this is the life of my struggles as a writer. It is a love-hate relationship. I love to do it, I can’t live my life for very long without doing it, but it frustrates me to no end when I can’t seem to get it just right. I want to quit every few seconds and hit delete as often as I want to keep hitting the space bar. I love writing, I love the process, and for me, the struggles of being a writer are part of that.
Marcy Mason McKay
Nicolette – I wish I could give you 100 gold stars for leaving such a heartfelt comment. One year ago, I was a lurker on writing blogs. I read them actively, but NEVER left comments.
Since then, I’ve made some WONDERFUL online friends. Now, I just comment in moderation…if a blog really speaks to me, then I do so.
All your fears sound 100% like a writer. You pursued a degree in creative writing instead of business or pre-med. Why? Because you have the heart of a writer. I can see that in EVERY line you shared here.
If you want to write fantasy or sci-fi or whatever, I hope you’ll let yourself do it. Leave academia behind. Find Nicolette’s true passion.
However, YOU already know the answer and you said it so beautifully, “All your fears are self-imposed.” I hope you’ll stop being your own worst enemy.
Start small: write, maybe enter some contests, join a writing class in person or online. Connect those who can help you find your voice and find who you’re meant to be as writer.
Again, I’m so honored you left a comment today. If you want to talk more, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you so much Marcy! Your advice is everything I could have hoped for and more!
Marcy Mason McKay
I just tell it like it is, Nicolette. I hope to see more of your comments in the future because you’re clearly a wise and compassionate writer.
I would normally say self-sabotage, but yesterday something reminded me of an incident with someone who may or may not be related to me by way of parentage, who may or may not be a female, who may or may not be older than me, and whom I definitely do not allow in my life anymore.
Roughly 15 years ago she asked me what I was working on and I said a mystery novel.
She then launched into a five-minute sermon about every mystery writer alive and how they wrote many, many words before getting published, and THEY were fiction writers.
I reminded her that I have a degree in fiction writing. After denying that this was true, she finally, grudgingly admitted that maybe I could write a novel. I was so thrilled to have her permission.
After I finished it, she told me all the reasons she could think of why no one, including her, would ever want to read it.
After I got a best-selling mystery novelist (I’ll only say she writes female private investigator novels and is probably the-best known writer in that genre), she wanted to read my book.
After I got an agent for my book, she told everyone how proud she was of me and how she always knew I could do it and that she encouraged me all the time.
A few years later, when I had given up fiction at least temporarily and was focusing on nonfiction, she called one day and asked what I’d done that week. I told her I’d finished four books, because I had. Each one needed varying degrees of finishing, and I did that.
She said, “Not from SCRATCH, you didn’t!” I said no, not from scratch. I didn’t say I wrote four books. I said I FINISHED four books. Then I asked her how many books she’d finished in her entire life. She was tired of talking and wanted to get off the phone at that point.
So, yeah. Sabotage from others. And that’s not even the reason I won’t have anything to do with her. That’s minor 🙂
Marcy Mason McKay
Ouch, Angie. This person is not worthy of your time or attention. If she ever asks you again what you’re working on, I hope you won’t tell her. She doesn’t deserve to know + she’s only looking for a fight. She’s definitely out to sabotage you and should come with a flashing WARNING sign on her.
You’re are so kicking ass these days. Ignore haters like her and keep going!
Oh, absolutely I ignore her. She pulled something completely inexcusable five years ago. I ran into her in the library a year or so ago and said hello. I ran into her in the grocery store a few months ago and said hello. It breaks my heart that my mother has so little memory and awareness of the world now, but at least I don’t have to stay in contact with any of my deranged siblings for my mother’s sake. And I don’t mean deranged like all families are dysfunctional or everyone is a little crazy.
Marcy Mason McKay
Oh my, Angie, that’s extra rough it’s your mom. However, NOBODY has the right abuse us like that. Not even family. Good for you for keeping firm boundaries. Rock on!
My biggest problem of those mentioned is fear of criticism. I’m just naturally sensitive and thin-skinned and I find it hard not to be hurt and discouraged by negative feedback, no matter how much I tell myself it’s not personal. I am open to suggestions for improvement in my writing, but only if they’re accompanied by a lot of positivity and support. I try to explain to people that sharing my work makes me feel very vulnerable, and while I don’t expect anyone to lie, I do need them to be gentle. Unfortunately, not everyone respects or is willing to do that.
I’ve tried over many years to become tougher by exposing myself to harsher criticism, but it just destroys my confidence, and now I prefer to rely on one or two trusted people. I’m not sure any more that a thick skin is achievable for me, so my new strategy is to learn to work with what I’ve got.:)
Marcy Mason McKay
Great point, Catherine. I think what you said is true for ALL of us — we can only work with what we’ve got. My strategy is to start tight…readers I trust 100% and who’ll be 100% honest in me, but in the most CONSTRUCTIVE way possible. They help make my writing the best it can be, so when it goes public (and granted, my novel hasn’t gone fully public)…I am prepared as I possibly can for harsh criticism. Those beyond my circle have loved it, have hated, are completely cruel. Of course, I prefer those who love it, but at this point, I’m better to able to separate from the harshness.
Bottom line: I start with those I trust and who help me make my writing the best it can be, so that I’m ready for the unknown future.
Good luck and keep writing and keep sharing with those trusted readers.
My biggest writing concern is procrastination. I have a lot on my plate between running a family and being a full-time college student, so I often let these things get in the way of my writing. There seems to always be one more assignment to finish or chapter to read when it’s time to get to writing. There’s also always another sink full of dishes, the refrigerator needs to be cleaned out, the dirty laundry is piling up to overflowing, and, wow, I would really love it if my desk was on the OTHER side of the room instead.
When it comes down to it, I love writing more than I love rearranging furniture, school work, house work, or watching a three-hour block of Forensic Files reruns, but I keep going back to these things. I know it’s not laziness, and I know it’s not that I don’t want to write. It’s FEAR. Fear that when I open my word processor, nothing will come. Fear that something will come, but it will be garbage, and I’ll be stuck with another lump of refuse to clean up over and over again until it’s still not as good as some of the things my friends write.
Hm. So, maybe it’s not just procrastination. Let me start again.
Marcy, I think my biggest writing concern is #1-5….
Marcy Mason McKay
Adan! It’s so good to see you my friend. I think you nailed it…your struggles are #1 – 5. I remember during Mudpie Writing’s Creative Monsters Challenge that we both struggle a lot with perfectionism.
Perfectionism and procrastination go hand-in-hand. You said you worry your writing is as good as what you friends write. That’s a lot of pressure….so watch more TV, do another chore, do anything but honor your craft.
Additionally, please give yourself some grace. Full-time student and full-time family? Those are two HUGE commitments. More than anything else, I hope you get an attitude adjustment. Be grateful for WHATEVER writing time you do and know that however crappy it is, you can revise later. The only thing you cannot fix is a blank page.
I’m way behind in a response, but I think I struggle with all of the above. I wrote a novel years ago and let it sit. My sister read it and loved it. I was glad I sent her a copy because the computer it was on died and everything was lost. She sent me a copy and I fed it into my new computer to work on later. I was busy with my nursing career and did not want to write. I pulled it out last year and could not imagine why I thought it was so good. The idea and characters are okay, but my writing was terrible.
In the meantime, I wrote a novel and self-published it. It did poorly, partly due to being printed in 9 font. I’ve finished my third novel, but hated it by the time I got done. I had to switch it to the Christian genre which made for only minor changes. Being on seizure medication and dealing with multiple illnesses made writing difficult–more the remembering part. I was amazed when I read back through sections and noticed I rewrote the same paragraph a page or two later. They were almost word for word!
I can’t seem to break myself of the habit of editing as I write. That really slows me down and I lose my train of thought. I know better, but that doesn’t seem to matter to my brain.
While my book is being edited, I planned to work on the next one. I took a week break thinking my mind needed the rest. Then it became 2 weeks, a month, then 2 months. I’ve dabbled with several books in my folder, but can’t see to come up with any desire to write.
I met Troy, a waiter, several weeks back and thought he would be perfect in one of my novels. He’s studying to be a doctor of physical therapy and is so handsome–a perfect male character. I made some notes in the character folder and looked at the story. I had not reached the point where I could introduce him, so that ended that. I’m sure he’d like to get out of that folder.
On Saturday, Rebecca and I were at breakfast. I told her a quick rundown of one of my books after she made a comment that I thought would be good in that story. I ran through the entire story even coming up with the ending (because of her comment) in less than 10 minutes. I got excited, thinking this is the book I should work on. I had to reread it since I had not worked on it in a long time. Again, I spent time making corrections, but I’m at the beginning of the book not the ending although I could write that scene and have it ready when I need it. Maybe I could write from the end to beginning. That might work better.
I think you SHOULD to give it a try to write then end, then work your way back to the beginning. Anything different might help.
Also, please be patient with yourself with your illnesses, etc. Sometimes, kindness is the best medicine. I found times in my life where I would NEVER treat others the way I treated myself. But, I’m learning and growing and don’t do that (as much) any more. Good luck!
I’m not sure WHY I’m just now seeing this, Elzie, but THANK YOU for giving me a shout-out. Best to you and your writing…EVERYDAY!