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