Man, writing is so hard! I mean we're not talking about busting rocks with a sledgehammer hard, though it sometimes feels like that. But every day of my life I wake up with the intention of writing at least an hour. Most days I fail miserably with this intention. Why is that? Why can't I just do it? The desire is there, but somehow things keep not getting written.
I mean, it's so frustrating. So you might be asking yourself why is it so hard for this fella to do something I do everyday? That is a good question. But to answer, I think I have to explain how I got to where I am now with my writing. Because I think it's the same thing every writer goes through.
First and foremost, you have to have the desire. My mother reads about 4 or 5 books a week, but she's never had the desire to write anything. A love of reading is a great place to start, but not all avid readers even think about writing. So desire is the first step.
Then you'll have to get past all the doubt and self-loathing. You can't do anything till you do that! And at first, that's all that you feel when you sit down to write. I used to look at the blank page and ask myself who the hell I am to think I could fill that page with words anyone but my mother would read? It was so bad I gave up on fiction and tried my hand at writing plays. That turned out to be worse because all the structure really messed with my flow.
Anyways, after you get past all that fear or at least put it off to the side, you then have to force yourself to actually sit down and write! This, I think every writer in the world can relate to because we all have a daily battle with time management and a strong enough commitment to make it happen no matter what. Be it yoga, the gym, or working on that damned novel!
The next phase is the most difficult to swallow, at least it was for me. You have to let yourself suck. I mean, really suck! Like suck so bad not even you can bring yourself to read the slop you wrote. And sadly, that phase goes on for years. And I do mean YEARS! Oh the sensation of your fingers striking the keyboard and the joy you feel in your heart as the words soar onto the page is beyond joy. And that joy, that elation, is what compels you to push on and keep going. Because you know one day your genius will finally be reachable. And you know, you are days, perhaps hours from completing your opus. Of course, this compulsion is never satisfied. And no matter how much you write, like that poltergeist hallway, the end keeps getting farther away.
After years of suffering through all the days of doubt, bad writing, writer's block (caused by a deep-seated fear of failing), and lack of motivation you're finally rewarded with a story you are actually proud of! Oh, you're not kidding yourself into believing that it's going to sell a million copies or make you rich, but you know in your heart, it's as good a story as you can possibly make and for once it doesn't suck. You're elated! You show it to everyone you pass on the street and all of your friends! And like the muscles that barely seemed much bigger than the last ones you showed them a month ago, the story doesn't impress anyone. In fact, after a while, everyone avoids your emails and phone calls because they don't want to read anymore of your crappy stories. And suddenly you wake up and realize you've become as bad as that pyramid scheme guy you knew in college! People everywhere are avoiding eye contact with you for fear you're going to try to sell them on this months ultimate get rich pipe dream!
So you do what every writer has done before you: you try to get that story that doesn't suck published. Because you know in your heart, that the reason your friends don't want to read it isn't because it sucks, but because they just don't like to read. Or when they read it they hear your voice and not the character's voice and it ruins it for them. And you're sure you just need a wider sample size for your story to find its audience! But after an avalanche of rejection letters piles up, the inkling that your cute little story, isn't actually very good begins working its way through the first few layers of your mind. This is a breaking point for many. They either quit or redouble their efforts. Most quit.
Years go by and lots of mediocre writing follows. None of which you see as the crap that it is, but regardless is actually is very much crappy. But each story you write tends to be just a little less crappy than the one that came before. Of course, you can't see the improvements because you can't see the faults. You're biased! You think they're all freaking gold!
Finally, you reach the pinnacle! You get something published somewhere! India maybe. Or the Philippines. It doesn't matter where the literary journal is because someone actually feels the same way about your writing as you do! But, like heroin, the high only lasts a little while. And it's quickly replaced by the need to chase that dragon for as long as it takes! Not for the recognition. Not for the money, because we all know unless your name is Stephen King, you're not making any money from writing. But just for a moment, you see the chance at immortality dangling in front of you! A chance to have your story read by high school or college kids for the next 30 or 40 years. You know you're kidding yourself. You know no one is really going to think that highly of your work, but the dream slips in anyway.
So you keep writing and you publish again and again and again. Then a fear creeps its way into your mind, "Okay, this story is the best thing I've ever written! I see now that everything else was absolute crap! What if it's all downhill from here?" You start looking at writing in a way you never did before, with terror in your eyes! You're afraid that the skills you've been developing for years will somehow disappear! As if that is even remotely possible, but you'll lie awake at night with bloodshot eyes worrying about it.
This is as far as I've come. Sadly, I have no nuggets of information for you to let you know what's in store if you find yourself in the same place I am and decide to push forward with your writing anyways. Or if you should decide to finally start writing that novel. But I'm going to give you my prediction what comes next: more of the same only more so!
It's the hardest thing I've ever done and it's all I ever wanted to do. I can't imagine stopping now. I'm not gonna let a little lack of innate ability or talent stop me! Why would I? It hasn't stopped me so far!
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