A Hateful Cycle

It was bound to happen eventually. It always does.

The process, which I’ve repeated countless times since a tender age, looks like this:

 

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

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Self doubt starts creeping in.

 

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I read through what I’ve written, and realize it is crap.

 

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I desperately try to salvage the situation. Rewriting parts, restructuring, changing things, hoping an overhaul might somehow help.

 

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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 inΒ 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.

 

 

 

9 thoughts on “A Hateful Cycle

  1. A like… just because I can relate. My advice… when you finish something don’t look at it for a month. Put it away and forget you ever finished it. Then look at it with fresh eyes, you will see the errors but you will see the good too. You may even think ‘wow, I wrote that part? That was good!’

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That really is good advice, I should remember that. Not look back right away, but let it wait for a while. Fresh eyes as you said. Yes, I really need to remember that. Thank you!

      Like

  2. Firstly, it’s probably not as crap as you think right now. Second, it’s fine to write a crappy first draft! Improvements are for rewrites πŸ™‚ You can edit a crappy first draft, you can’t edit a blank page. These feelings are totally normal for a writer, far more normal than not having them, so please don’t get too bogged down in them. It is indeed better to not look until you reach the end. And then not look for at least a month, as Velf says!

    Try to recapture the joy in writing, it doesn’t have to be perfect first time, or even 31st time. There is a great sense of achievement in finishing your first crappy first draft. I now have two, plus lots of unfinished ones, and I have yet to do the edits, but I am making progress! Better to have two finished first drafts than none, and one day I will have a finished second draft, and then eventually a finished actual novel πŸ™‚ and you will too! Keep at it. Regard it as a fun hobby which need never see the light of day if that helps, but don’t give up.

    Also, you need not be alone in the journey towards a finished novel. You may be alone with your first draft, and the second, but then you find beta readers and an editor who will help you get it even better. Don’t despair at this stage. If you see writing a novel like building a house, the first draft is more like when you have the walls up, maybe the roof on, if you’re lucky and planned well, the windows and doors in place. Edits are like adding the wiring, plastering or whatever finishing you do, painting, hanging curtains, putting furniture in. You wouldn’t live in a shell of a house, but you can’t live in one just made of wallpaper and cushions!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You are right. Absolutely right in every aspect. I don’t know why it’s so hard to actually take to heart though! It’s very strange, isn’t it? How reason and logic just flies away? It helps to hear this though, so thank you. It really does mean a lot!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have the exact same issue. Not just with writing, but with literally every project. Ever.

    Except that, recently, I started writing some fanfiction… and I was lucky enough to have multiple people reading it and encouraging me… and by the time I realized I was in over my head and my motivation had begun to flag I mostly knew the way to the end and I knew there were people invested that I really, really didn’t want to disappoint. Multiple strokes of luck, really, that I finished it at all.
    But I did. (Setting myself a certain goal, that I’ll put out X words every day or two, also really helped in just “getting to the end.”)

    And that feeling, knowing I can write something of 46k words, and that people actually read it all, and enjoyed it… and that OMG I finished it and I can do it and I actually did it… that feeling is amazing. I’m tackling a slightly more ambitious project now with lots of deep breaths and a little more knowledge of how it goes now.

    Obviously, writing something original, for yourself, is a good deal harder in many respects. You don’t have anyone besides yourself who might be disappointed if you stop. You don’t have people reassuring you that no, it’s not complete crap, and that this actually should be written, and that you’re exactly the one to write it.

    Most I can say that’s actually constructive is to echo what people above have said: to not look back. Period. Maybe take a breather to re-assess exactly which direction it makes sense to take given the most recent developments, but keep going.

    Another thing that really helped me was to consider what I had already written as pretty much engraved in stone, and if I’d screwed up/omitted something I’d just have to work around it. (A little easier when you’re actually posting something somewhere that makes it a pain to edit later, but it’s the mindset that’s the key.)

    Third: (Kind of a collorary to the “keep going” bit.) Sit down and write a bit every day. No, seriously. It doesn’t have to be the next scene. It could be a scene that you want to happen, or that maybe happened in the past you could use as a flashback–it could be something you end up completely scrapping later. Write at least some small chunk every day (more if it starts coming easily), and eventually you’ll be done.

    Also, I haven’t read much of your writing, but I loved what I did read. So… gag that inner critic for a while, yeah? πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so happy to hear you finished such a big project, that’s awesome! And now I’m curious, where’s it posted? πŸ˜› Is it a gw2 thing? Because what I’ve read of yours before was great, you really are talented. And best of luck with the new project!

      I’ll try to take everything you say to heart. Writing a bit each day… Almost there, I am at perhaps 6/7 days a week, 5/7 if it’s a worse week. x) And doing my best now to NOT look back. Not yet.

      *takes a deep breath* Now, more writing.

      *hugs*

      Like

  4. Perhaps the issue is more that you compare your “voice” with another author’s work. I do that a lot. And it’s key to remember that Author X sounds like Author X because he is Author X.

    You are not Author X.

    Perhaps you’re Author Red, or Author 135879, Or Author HB, but you are not Author X.

    My first trilogy (tee-hee) I started when I was 13, finished at 28 and I knew it needed work… but things kept coming up, so I’d edit a little here and there and I learned a lot from that. Adverbs, plot holes, description clarity, blahblahblah…

    But.

    It will never see publication. I re-read it again at age 39 and came away with the knowledge that it’s an interesting concept, and the stick-to-it-ness for 15 years was breathtaking, but ultimately, I refer to these 3 manuscripts as my “training wheels.”

    Training wheels are necessary. Keep trying and you’ll figure out how to ride the bike.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. For sticking with it for 15 years you have my adoration! That is impressive, it really is. πŸ˜€ And yes, training wheels. That’s a good concept really, I should keep that in mind.

    Like

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