Sometimes Writing Sucks

It’s true.

Sometimes writing sucks.

As a “new” writer (who’s been working on a book for about six years, off and on) sometimes writing REALLY sucks.

raining-money-250x250Unpublished novelists live between two worlds of thought. On certain days, we’re brilliant geniuses. We are the undiscovered J. K. Rowling, Anne Rice, and Stephen King. On those days, we feel like once our books are finished, publishers will be stepping over each other to thrust million dollar advances in our faces using words like, “merchandise royalties” and “movie rights.” On other days . . . it seems as if we’ve just wasted the last SIX YEARS of our lives writing a story no one will ever be interested in EVER, which should be printed off only to be burned in a barrel and then bombed with a nuclear warhead.

Today I am leaning toward printing off my book and calling in the warhead.

Every once and a while the stars align. I get a day off while the hellions are IN SCHOOL. These days are what it’s all about. I have *gasp* a whole SIX HOURS to write, uninterrupted, before they come back home and start scavenging the cupboards for sustenance like a pack of clumsy wildebeests.

I plan for these days all week.yvvpy

I have THREE chapters left to write, people. THREE.

At the end of the summer, in September, I had FIVE.

“So, what’s the hold up?” you may ask.

Given the proper attention each chapter should take about a week to hash out. Sometimes it takes longer. Sometimes a lot longer, depending on the hellions and our schedule (factor in Christmas, storm days, my “real” job, a few sick days, and carry the three). So, lately, each chapter has taken . . . about two months.

Finding time to write is hard. Aspiring novelists are a breed of people who come home from work, make dinner, take care of the house (and, in my case, shovel copious amounts of snow), spend time with the hellions, or dogs . . . or . . . the shopping channel, and then flick our computers on and go to work all over again: on our awful, stupid, (and sometimes utterly brilliant) books.

But, this week, I really thought I could scratch one out. Get one more chapter out of my head and onto the screen.

12509515_221355271536260_2801088508274429890_nThis week I sat down to write and . . .

nothing happened.

I stared at a blinking cursor for six hours. Well, that’s not entirely true. I checked my email. I went to town on Twitter. I cleaned the house and did two loads of laundry. I watched a few cat videos on Facebook.

AND I deleted two thousand words from my latest draft.

So today, I made backwards progress. Today my book sucks, and it’s never going to be finished. The beginning is still pretty good, and the middle, well, the middle’s actually pretty awesome, but the ending is a pile of garbage that smells like something that smells really bad, that smells like something . . . I CAN’T THINK OF RIGHT NOW, BECAUSE I’M NOT A REAL WRITER, OKAY?!?

Today, I’m not an author. I’m not even an aspiring author.

But, I’m still going to try again tomorrow.


69 thoughts on “Sometimes Writing Sucks

  1. Oh how I feel your pain! Some days are the worst. Some weeks…some months, even. I’ve felt less brilliant days than I have felt stinking failure days for over a year now. I wonder what I’m doing. Why I’m doing it. Then I am reminded that if I don’t write (like when my husband needs my attention ALL the time, or his mother, or his kids…notice it’s his family, not mine) I go nuts!!! I HAVE to write. It’s a drive, not just a wish or dream. THAT is what makes you and me authors all the time, not just when we feel validated by an outside source (being published, praised) or by ourselves (feeling accomplished, meeting goals.) keep writing. No matter what.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Oh–
      it’s so great to know we’re not alone, isn’t it?? Like you, I love writing, I feel compelled to do it . . . but it drives me crazy. There have been a few moments in the past year that I’ve received a little praise, a few pats on the back, and felt really positive about my WIP, but it’s true–most of the time it’s easier to feel like and imposter who has bitten off far more than I could chew.
      We could give up. The stories of aspiring writers giving up on their projects are endless.
      But, like you, I know I won’t, even if I feel like it today.
      Write on, Kim 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry to hear it, what an awful feeling, I KNOW. We all know it, I’m sure. In particular, the frustration when you finally have a big chunk of time to work and you sit down and… it won’t happen? ARGH, that is the worst! Feeling your pain, sister writer. But you’ve got the right attitude — get up tomorrow and give it another try. Go for it! You can do it!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. All we can ever do is keep trying.

    I just did the math based on my current rate of progress and…and nothing. I’ve completely blocked the number out of my psyche. I am happy once again in La La land where I have plenty of time to plan my writing around the kid’s events and the day job and of course the words will just naturally flow. A little delusion and/or insanity isn’t always a bad thing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Exactly!
      And sometimes it’s even hard to get the ideas to FORM before we can think about placing them down as words on a page. When I first sat down to write the book, I had an idea in my head about how the writing of it would be . . . and then it took me almost a year to complete the first chapter.
      Writing is a much slower process than I could have ever imagined. But, I suppose I’m to far in now to call it a day. And so, like the sucker for punishment that all aspiring novelists seem to be, I’ll be doing it again tomorrow.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. There’s always today and the words you have may well be better than you think…there’s no such thing as perfection which you seem to be striving for…I’ve yet to see the perfect book…I sure as hell won’t be writing one…but I’ll finish, publish and learn…and go on to the next one. Your book is not the beginning and the end of anything…it’s just the beginning of what you want to do…write for a living…so why not finish it best you can and move on. You’ve got other stuff to write. Perfection never comes…even to writers with the label author. I’ll step back now and give thanks that I’m a few thousand miles away! Eric.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Haha, Eric:
      Are my stories of shoveling scaring you off? Luckily, I won’t have to go the gym for the next couple months, and probably couldn’t even if I tried. Oh . . . my arms!!
      I know that perfection is unobtainable. I know my writing will always have room to improve. But, it’s definitely easy to become frustrated when every word I write seems to be followed with a few strokes of the delete button!
      On the other hand of all of this though, I should probably remind myself that few things worth having are easy. I hope YOUR writing is coming along well!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is what we call the ledge. Occasionally I’ll see a writer out there and talk them back in through a window. Just as often they let me know they’re out on the ledge and I talk them down. But on rare occasions they get out there and start deleting thousands of words and then it’s more a matter of getting them to hit the net when they jump.

    Or if they slip.

    You don’t strike me as a jumper so we’ll say slip. Yeah, that’s it. The ledge needed cleaning and next thing you know you were out there on it. It happens.

    Okay, so what do we know, and what do we do about it? Cos if you think I’m gonna hold your hand, you might have shot me a Facebook message (I have messenger now, too; it rocks) BEFORE you deleted thousands of words – and managed to write a thousand on your blog lamenting… your inability to write? Do I have that correct?

    Well, I love irony as much as the next guy. Heck, maybe more. I even have sympathy for anybody buried under a foot of snow while I contemplate whether I’ll wear a sweatshirt with my shorts as I go buy chlorine for the pool. (I decided yes on the sweatshirt, but only because it was a little windy.)

    Okay, sister, time for the tough love. If you think this is the hard part, you are wrong. This writing stuff? This is the easy part. Even when it’s hard, it’s easy. The hard part – the part we refer to as the abyss – that’s when you press the “publish” button and a few weeks go by and nothing really happens. You want to crawl under a rock and question your right to exist because nobody anywhere wants to read your book. Or review it. Or recommend it to friends. Or any one of a thousand other ways your shiny new book will bring harm to your little delicate writer psyche.

    But there’s good news! I can help you avoid the abyss!

    And I could have helped you avoid the freaking ledge! Do you not know how to get ahold of me? You can call. I’m in the book, for pete’s sake. There’s like two guys with my name in the whole United States and I’m not the radical priest in Texas.

    Okay, okay, here’s the deal:

    1. You have written a pretty god book. You may still f*ck it up, but most of what I read was amazing. (Amazeballs in Jennyspeak.) I don’t say that to everybody – check the array of carcasses in my critique group that got a “better luck next time” card from me.

    2. If it was easy, everybody would write a book. 80% of US Americans want to and the vast majority don’t.

    3. Of those who attempt it, MOST SUCK. Your book does not suck. (See #1)

    4. You have a LOT of people who want to help you in whatever way is needed. Don’t be afraid to ask for that help when you’re blocked. (And I don’t mean constipated, but I’m sure you know somebody to call about that, too. It’s not me. I wanna get on the record about that right now.)

    5. You are beautiful, funny, interesting, and a nice person. And your family loves you. Probably friends, too; I only know you online. But let’s give you that one, too.

    6. You have a LOT of people who want to help you in whatever way is needed. Sometimes that means goofing off with them for an hour on Facebook chat (now messenger; I upgraded and it’s totally addictive) until they prod you to get creative and clear the logjam. After all, you managed to put down 100,000 words in a cohesive string so far. Odds are a few more thousand are in you.

    7. This was not going to be a list but what the hell, it is now.

    8. As a list, it needed to stop at three of five, but once we sailed past those, ten seemed to be the magic number.

    9. Have a drink. (Like I need to tell you that.) Try writing drunk, like Hemingway said – write drunk, edit sober. It’s worth a shot (get it? Shot?) You may come up with something really interesting. You may not. But at least you’ll be drunk. And stop disappearing from Facebook, it obviously isn’t helping.

    10. You have a LOT of people who want to help you in whatever way is needed.

    Whatever way is needed.

    WHAT EVER way is needed.

    You have a LOT of people who want to help you in whatever way is needed.

    Get it?

    Let them.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hello Dan 🙂
      I hope that one day I can pay you back for all of the support you’ve given me this past year. Your encouragement has brought me out of my writing shell, AND my (occasional) pity-parties.
      You will get a big BIG thank you in my book when it FINALLY comes out.
      Thanks for your patience & for putting up with all of my sorted BS.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You inspire others with your blog, but lifting up others is far easier than lifting up yourself. It’s common to have a love/hate relationship with your own work. I know I do, and a successful author told me not long ago that he has a hate/hate relationship with his work!

    During the editing process, I read my MS countless times. First, I read it and think I’m a genius. Then some time goes by, I read it again and wonder why I thought such a piece of crap was good. Next time, it’s my masterpiece. Call me crazy, but I know I’m not alone in this, and you’re proving it. 🙂

    Maya Angelou said that with all the books she’s written, she still worries that people will find her out. (That she can’t write, lol.) And how many actors have you heard say that they refuse to watch themselves on screen because they cringe? Writers are the same way with the work we produce. We’re our own worst critics.

    You know, you’d better get moving, girl. Since I started following your blog, I published my debut novel and am about to finish the first draft of the sequel. After getting stuck for a few months due to one little comment someone made, which then led to a period of illness and the holidays after that, I finally said, “Enough’s enough!” I set a minimum daily writing goal, giving myself one day off/week, with the weekly writing goal being most important (because I could make up for a bad day later in the week), and that’s it. Tomorrow I’ll be done with the first draft.

    What motivated me the most was someone who told me I would never do it. Perhaps instead of encouraging you, we should challenge you. “You’ll never do it, J.A. You’ll never get this thing published.” Does that work? 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, Maya Angelou is one of my very favorite authors. Isn’t it funny to think that she used to have doubts like that? It’s great that you are doing so well with your now writing, DM. I know exactly how one comment can throw you off your game. And, you’re right, I really do need to stop talking about getting my butt in gear and just DO IT.
      It’ll happen.
      And it’ll happen all that much sooner, because you just said it wouldn’t 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh, Jenny, I feel your pain. No matter how disciplined I am about sitting my but in the chair to write every day, some days the story in my head just refuses to come out. I’ve spent hours staring at a blank screen (or typing and deleting), beat myself up, called myself a loser and a poor excuse of a writer wanna-be many, many times.

    But I refuse to give up; because I love writing, and I’ve worked too hard to come as far as I have…two stubborn scenes left to write (not in the same chapter, of course). I cut myself off from anything that could be a distraction, and I managed to write more in the past five weeks than I wrote in the six months before that.

    You’re a great writer…I’ve read enough of your story to know that. Don’t worry about what other people think or whether they’ll like your story. Write for yourself. Write because you love it. Just keep writing…

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh CJ,
      It was so nice to read this. It’s so funny how we’re kind of going through the same thing. I love your writing, and when I read your work, it just seems so effortless and natural. You are certainly one of my favorite critique partners. I’m glad you’ve found a way to cut out the distractions. I think that’s exactly what I should be doing too.
      Thanks for the boost! Hoping you a speedy final two scenes (’cause I want to read them!).

      Liked by 1 person

    • Haha,
      You so right, Shehanne! After my little pity party (which sometimes really are so necessary) I am writing up a storm today. And soon, I’ll be untangling all of the knots.
      Too f@#king right 😉
      Thank you for dropping by!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh you had no pity party. We have all been there, believe me. All written backwards and gone from like 40 thou words to 20 not even thou. Thing is you then see an editor putting the red pen through stuff you slaved and agonized over half the night, which kind of puts a lot in perspective. Also we’ve all been there with kids where time is a jewel you can’t even afford to examine. As for the many stages of suck? That’s the biggest reason not to stop, just to barge on.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I know exactly how you feel. I’ve *finished* my novel and still become convinced that I’ve wasted my time and energy on it up until this point. The voices in our own heads can truly be the cruelest. But! I love your attitude, that’s the only way to finish is to keep trying. “Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says ‘I will try again tomorrow.;”

    You can do this! And you’ve made amazing progress, no matter how incremental it feels! It’s more than you had last year, last month perhaps. You’re doing more than the person just thinking about doing it. Only a fellow writer understands that hours of staring at your screen, while seeming like no work, is a LOT of work, and taxing on the writer’s soul, particularly if it’s been a while since words have met page.

    I believe in you! And I look forward to the day you post your excitement about finishing it! 🙂 You’ve got this.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, thank you for your kind words. You put a little pep in my step today. Writing is largely a solitary endeavor, and it’s good to connect with others once in a while for a bit of encouragement. I have been thinking about you, wondering how your querying is going.
      Wishing you all the best, DMG!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m glad I could brighten your day a bit. We writers have to stick together, in between all of the solo marathons.

        That makes me smile, thank you so much. I’ve been asked to send my manuscript along by a couple of places which is promising! And so much to plan for.

        Thank you! Wish you the best as well. Take care, and write on!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. We are our own worst critics. We all have to learn to stop beating ourselves up. Life happens. Some books take a few months, some take years. You will get there when the time is right. For now enjoy this writing, revisions suck! Lol 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You are an author! Dammit! Great post. We all have those up and down days. Do you find you are trying to write the ending you want or the ending you think a reader wants?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Those cat videos will get you every time! They’re but one of the many headead Procrastination Hydra Beast that suck up your time and leave you wondering what the hell you were thinking when the idea of writing popped into your head.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I saw a wonderful quote the other day by the amazing Terry Pratchett: “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.”

    I’ve written six books now, plus one novella I ghost wrote for someone, and there are still times when I feel like calling in the nuclear strike — on my head rather than the dumpster fire that is my current WIP 😉 It’s that first telling of the story, for me, that’s the hardest. Letting go of the perfectionist and just… writing. This latest book has taken the longest of any that I’ve written, and I still probably have another 30-40K words left (I’m about 70K in)! But I will get there. And so will you!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Self-doubt and self-criticism are toxic but unfortunately easy to come by. One way to dispel them is to reflect back on successes. They are in the resources of memories. Mastering one’s mind rather than letting it be the master is easier said than done but it must be done. Plan and determine a victory with confidence based on havingwon in the past; you will win again.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I once deleted 40k words and walked away in tears. It took a month to sit down and work on that book again. I’ve written 30 books and that one was probably around 15. I don’t think it actually gets easier. I know this isn’t heartening news. Art is like that. It comes from the soul. It should be a struggle to create and that’s what makes the accomplishment even sweeter. The difference in being a writer and (a)uthor is that a true (a)rtist does not give up.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow, 30 books, what an accomplishment! You must be so proud. Thank you for sharing your experiences, reading your comment has been encouraging. “Art… should be a struggle to create and that’s what makes it even sweeter.”
      I love that. Too true.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Oh my gosh same thing here. I’ve been writing mine forever (about seven years now) and it’s only when I get a few minutes at lunch when I can write. It takes months per chapter and with my writer’s group I’ve written Chapter 1 like 50 times. There are a few rare days when it is magical, and on others when it is a dumpster fire.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Jenny, sometimes writing does suck, but what is more wonderful? I love your description of the schizophrenia of authors–brilliant one day, failures the next–geniuses in the morning, nincompoops by noon. Suffering my writer’s up and down moods for some decades, my wife still hasn’t become acclimated. Neither have I, but every morning my confidence returns mightily, and back to the work I go. Whether a chapter takes me a month to write, or five or ten, what’s the difference? A writers life is the best life.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I admire your deleting two THOUSAND words from your draft. Sometimes two thousand words can be a real struggle and take a lot of time, but part of writing is knowing what to take out.

    I hope the process is going more smoothly these days… I’m trying to work on a writing project myself this evening, but oh – look that that! The oven needs cleaning.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. The process of writing my second book in the series feels daunting.It took me 7 years to write book 1 and 2 years of editing and re-editing. Since many of my reviews pointed out my excessive use of adverbs, I’ve decided to clean up my writing. No extraneous for me. Only show and not tell. Never will I use the words: really, very, was, is, then, huge, and so on. I’ve been practicing my writing through poetry. I know nothing about it. But I find pictures on Tumblr that inspire me and I write a poem. I’ve been receiving good feedback. If I could continue with this pure type of writing, then maybe it could lead into a book. I try not not to think about whether I’m a good or bad writer, but a writer who intends to improve her craft.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I’m grinning at your expose’ of the interruptive obstacles that seem hurl themselves at you as a Creative. But like Jeff Goldblum says, “Life finds a way”. You will too. You’re in the hunt AND you’ve two loads of laundry done. You’re going to be fine.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I’m right there with you – my youngest is taking his driver’s test tomorrow and I’m mentally calculating how much writing time I’ll have if he passes – or more time to stare at the screen and watch cat videos. Depending on how my day’s going and the creative brain parts are churning.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Pingback: Finding Time to Write | J. A. Allen

  22. Seriously though, are you my spirit animal? Whatever that even means. I love how candid you are about these wannabe writer moments! It gives me hope that it’s all a part of the process and there is a light at the end of the tunnel…maybe:)

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Appreciate the like – thank you! Came to have a look at what you’re up to, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Definitely captures the mood that descends upon us all sometimes. Thank you for sharing and look forward to seeing more work in the future!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Pingback: Stuck | J. A. Allen

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