It was bound to happen eventually. It always does.
The process, which I’ve repeated countless times since a tender age, looks like this:
GREAT IDEA! I get inspired and start writing. I love writing, new ideas always keep coming and I can’t go without writing too long. So I write, and it’s fun, and I am optimistic!
I get deeper involved in the project, my mind keeps spewing interesting ideas and I am starting to see how I can wrap things up into a curious finished product, eventually.
Self doubt starts creeping in.
I read through what I’ve written, and realize it is crap.
I desperately try to salvage the situation. Rewriting parts, restructuring, changing things, hoping an overhaul might somehow help.
I reach the conclusion that the project can’t actually be salvaged, because I am simply a terrible writer who will never manage anything. I give up, feeling like a complete failure and a terrible person. Intense anxiety and self despising ensues.
And then I stay in that stage until a new idea hit me, and I simply can’t help starting the whole process over again. This has been repeated countless times since… well I think I started working on my first attempted novel around the age of ten? And now I am 31. Every time I hit that final stage of failure it gets worse, because not only do I feel sadness over the project lost, I also feel increasingly foolish for having made the same fundamental mistake AGAIN. The fundamental mistake of thinking I could actually be good enough. The mistake of even trying.
This last project of mine has gone surprisingly well. I’ve rarely managed to keep writing for this long without breaking down! I’ve enjoyed the writing itself, I love the characters and the story itself grips me. But of course, I couldn’t just carry on happily ever after. Two days ago I made the mistake of reading through what I’ve written, and I ended up in tears. It’s crap. I’m convinced it’s crap. I really am.
The thing is, I’ve been down this road so many times before that I know how such thinking ends. It ends in nothing. If I stop writing there is no improvement, there is no progress, there is nothing. So I need to carry on anyway, that’s the only way I can break the terrible cycle of failure. And I need to break the cycle, I don’t know how many more times I can manage getting up again after facing that horrible breakdown at the end.
So where am I now?
The project is crap. I suck at writing. But what are my options? Carry on and perhaps manage to finish a crappy novel? Or give up now and get nowhere?
Finishing a crappy novel that never gets published is at least something new. It may lead to progress on some level. So, that’s what I need to do. I need to finish my crappy project even if it sucks.
I hate myself sometimes.