I read this blog post from writerunboxed.com today that really hit home with me, especially as I’ve just come down from the stress and thrill of completing my fifth novel, a nearly 500 page beast of a book that was seriously the biggest challenge I have undertaken in…well, ever, really. And so I totally understood where Keith was coming from in this blog post on the issue of hitting “obstacles” while writing, but still pushing through even though you think what you’re writing SUCKS.
For awhile there I seriously thought I was alone in feeling like sometimes the stuff I wrote just plain sucked, and so what a relief it is to read about someone else going through that too! Especially with this most recent book I wrote, for awhile there I felt like I literally could not catch a break with it. I would look at my outline and the plan I had for the chapter or the scene, and I’d start typing away, building paragraphs and weaving the story, but then while doing it I’d get hung up on something absolutely stupid. Something like, that word just doesn’t fit what I’m trying to say, or, oh my God I suck at writing dialogue, or better yet, great, I just wrote in something that was unplanned on impulse and now it doesn’t fit and I’d have to change a bunch of stuff to make it work… *bangs head against desk*.
Yeah. It’s awful, and extraordinarily frustrating. Not to mention it’s enough to almost make you want to give up writing the stupid book altogether and start fresh with something new. But the biggest lesson I’ve forced myself to learn is that you shouldn’t give up just because you had a bad chapter, or as Keith put it, “Writing something that sucks isn’t fatal.” True!! And as he points out, it’s better to write something rather than nothing at all.
So don’t give up on a book idea that you know is good just because you’re feeling frustrated with your wording or sentence structure, or maybe the plot needs an extra twist put into it and you’re at a loss over what that twist should be. In my experience, pushing through the bad writing spell and forcing yourself to at least put somethingdown on paper ends up profiting in the end, especially because its one of the best ways to suddenly experience a “lightbulb moment” and say YES! while you fistpump the air and smile for the first time in days because the story suddenly makes sense or the right word hits you smack in the face or the magic writing fairy gifts you with sudden creative insight and the words just start flowing again.
And if plowing through and forcing yourself to keep writing doesn’t do the trick, then I’d say the next best alternative is to read back over what you’ve written (I usually go a couple of scenes back to get myself into the mood and flow of the story again) and as you do so, inspiration will probably strike and you’ll just know how the next scene should go.
In the end, the whole reason we write is because it’s supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to feel good to bring a novel from conception to completion and know that the stress and hard work paid off in a big way. And it does, because if you keep pushing forward and stop getting hung up on things you are more than able to change later on, then the story will get finished, and then you’ll read back over the whole book again and realize that the stuff you thought sucked before, actually worked better than you thought it did 🙂
Here’s that blog post. I definitely recommend all authors to read it! http://writerunboxed.com/2012/05/08/dare-to-suck/
“Disciplining yourself to do what you know is right and important, although difficult, is the highroad to pride, self-esteem, and personal satisfaction” -Margaret Thatcher