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The Worst Parts of Writing a Novel (or the Writing Process)

17 Dec

snoopy-good-writing-is-hard-work.jpegWriting a novel, especially once you’ve finished the first draft (especially if it’s your first book), is rewarding, but it’s also hard work.

Once you’ve come up with the idea, and finished your outline (if you’re a plotter), and you’ve started writing there are definitely things about the writing process that suck. Things like self-doubt, procrastination, time management, anxiety, writer’s block, distractions, and stress. Not to mention the naysayer’s out there who question your intentions, talent, and/or sanity–sometimes you’re one of those naysayer’s. its impossible

For me, the worst parts about writing a novel, other than figuring out what my actual writing process is, like trial and error with outlining, going from a pantser to a plotter, or finding my voice, are these things:

Anxiety and Stress. I have anxiety, not just when it comes to my writing, but in general, so it’s amplified when I’m doing something that causes me stress. On the good days, when I feel like I’m a good writer, maybe even a great writer, and I’m in what I like to call the “writer zone” I can write anywhere from 1000-3000 words a day. I feel good about my writing, about my novel. But on the bad days when I’m filled with anxiety or stressed out over a chapter, scene, or the novel itself I let the SELF-DOUBT in and then I feel like the worst writer ever, I question whether I should even be writing, I wonder why I am bothering when it’s evident that I’m never going to finish, or never going to accomplish my dream of finishing my novel and getting it published.

Found Picture on absolutewrite.com

Found Picture on absolutewrite.com

The Ups and Downs/Roller Coaster (Mood Swings). Like I just said, some days I feel like a good writer, or maybe even a great writer, but there those days when I feel like the worst writer ever. The ups and downs, or the roller coaster of emotions (mood swings), seem to be common for creative types. On the bad days, I question whether or not I should just give up and find something else to do with my time, but on the good days I know that it’s worth my time. Nobody said writing a novel was going to be easy, or that there weren’t going to be bad days, I have to remind myself on the bad days not to give up. Not to quit. To keep at it. And I remind myself that I’m not alone in this, that there are many  writer’s out there who feel the same way I do, whose first draft was a piece of shit, who went through all of this or who are going through it now. Within a few hours, I’ve gone from “Hey! I can do this!” to “OMG! I’m really doing this! Damn this is good!” to “OMG! What the hell was I thinking? Why am I even trying to write a novel?”  I know that there is evidence, that there is a correlation between creativity and mood swings/mental illness (depression, anxiety, bipolar, etc), which makes me wonder if this is normal. Okay, so I know, from what I hear, that many other writer’s have these ups and downs when writing, therefore, I don’t feel so alone.bonafide writer mug

Taking yourself seriously as a writer. Over the course of the past year, but especially the last few months (maybe six months or so), I’ve gone from feeling like I couldn’t or shouldn’t call myself a writer because I didn’t have anything (recent) published, that I’d never been paid for my creative writing (though I have been paid as a tutor and to (help) write or edit papers–that’s for a whole different post) to officially calling myself a writer. I’ve gone from shying away from saying I’m a writer, to proudly proclaiming it. I’m a bona fide writer, y’all.

My daughter and my husband, have both told me, and I’ve told myself, that if I don’t take my writing seriously then no one else will. That’s the truth, and I know, it but for a good while there was something blocking me from taking myself seriously as a writer because I didn’t feel secure enough to actually call myself a writer. Once I got past that point, and it’s been recently, I realized how much better I felt about my writing. How proud, and courageous it made me feel to say it out loud. I’m a writer! There’s something about proclaiming it to others out loud that makes you feel more confident as a writer, but until I got to that point it was one of the worst parts about the writing process for me. People would ask me what I do and I’d lower my head and say, “I’m a housewife,” or “I work from home,” or I’d just say “nothing.” Now, I say, “I’m a writer.”

The worst thing about writing a novel, is not being able to write–writer’s block. Some people say that writer’s block isn’t real, other’s say it’s actually, more or less, when you allow self-doubt, anxiety, stress, and/or insecurity to cripple you mentally. Perhaps that’s true, but I know when I procrastinate it is usually because I’m filled with anxiety, stress, insecurity, and/or self-doubt about my writing, a certain scene or chapter, or my ability to write–talent, creativity, etc. I’ve struggled with this for years, but over the past year, thanks to being part of a great community of other writer’s (#writestuff, #writetube) the struggle has lessened. I won’t say I don’t still struggle, I do, but at least now I don’t feel so alone. I don’t feel like I’m the only one out there struggling. And there are times when the kind words of motivation, inspiration, generosity, compassion, and/or constructive criticism are exactly what I need to push myself–to get my ass in the chair and write.

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