You may have noticed I didn’t blog last week. That’s because I was in Florida…without my computer…barely remembering to eat let alone put smartish words onto a website.
My first thought when I realized I had to skip my blog post was… “2017 IS DOOOOOOOMED!”
I mean, who starts of their brand new, optimism-drenched, year-of-all-things-better-than-last-year with a blog failure?
And, weirdly, I was totally fine with it. (After the “doom doom doom” panic attack.) And I’m willing to bet you were fine with it, too. I’d be surprised if any of you even noticed. And then those few of you who did notice probably went, “Huh. Well…okay then. Breakfast anyone?”
So here I am, one week late and still optimistic about 2017 (so far it’s been a delightful cyclone). When I mentioned to some friends that I just spoke at a conference on “How to Keep Writing When You Hate Your Story”…they dropped to their knees and said, “TELL USSSSSSSS.” (Or, at least, that’s how I interpreted their polite comments of, “That sounds interesting!”)
Thus, I am obeying their pleas. Let’s jump in, shall we?
Hating your story is inevitable.
If you have never experienced the giant dragon of loathing, or the sweet temptation of throwing your computer out of the 30th story window…that day will come and this post will prepare you. For those of you who have turned into the Hulk while writing, (“I’m always angry…”) this post is for you.
Why does this happen to us?
There could be many reasons. And before I go through them and break it down, I want you to know I’ve lived through every single one of these. And you can too. 😛
1) You might just be moody:
Sometimes it’s just a mood. (Are you Gollum or Smeagol?) It’s your job to learn to identify what is causing the mood. Is it because you feel inadequate? Or pressure from others? Are you playing the comparison game?
📚 Solution: CHOCOLATE. This is always the solution. If it can cure you of a dementor attack, it can get you writing again. 😛
Okay, okay, aside from chocolate…maybe you need to take a break, or just push through the hard part. These emotions will pass. Emotions are temporary. Remember that.
I’d also encourage you to remember who you’re writing for. Be grounded in God’s purpose for you. Without fail, when I immerse myself in Him it reminds me how small my road block really is. My thinking gets back on track and I find my hope and purpose in Him.
2) You might be a better editor than a writer:
Editing an writing come from different sections of your brain. Trust me. I’m both an editor and a writer, and I spent 6 years of my life studying the brain for speech therapy and stroke patients. I’m a professional.
Signs you’re a better editor than you are a writer is if you are editing as you go like a crazy person. You can’t move forward because the past MUST BE EDITED. AGAIN. AND AGAIN. AND AGAIN.
📚 Solution: You have to push yourself through that first draft, young padowan, so that then you can let the editing beast loose. To make the first draft easier, try plotting it a bit more on the front end. There’s proof that the more you have plotted, the faster you write because you know where you’re taking the story.
3) Your writing might actually be awful:
No, I’m not being mean. I’m being honest. Every author’s writing has been awful at some point, but this doesn’t mean you’re an awful writer. (Tweet this) part of being a writer is always learning and growing in your craft. Perfecting it just like any other artist or musician or creative mind out there.
📚 Solution: Go study the writing craft. Get critiques, hire an editor, attend a conference, read writing craft books. grow in your writing.
4) You might have outgrown your story:
This can happen a lot with new writers. We work on the same story–the first idea–for a looooong time. But sometimes the concept and idea behind that story can only grow so far, meanwhile you’re growing as an author.
Think about a pianist who learns chopsticks. And then she goes through 7 years of piano lessons but only ever plays chopsticks. She can add cool trills to it and make chopsticks sound the coolest it’s ever sounded…but she can only ever take chopsticks so far. It will never be Beethoven.
📚 Solution: Maybe it’s time to move on to a new story. But really pray about this one, because there are times when God wants you to push through. But if there are promptings to move on and you have a new story that’s itching to be written…go to Him in deep prayer and then…move forward. 🙂
5) Maybe you’re a perfectionist:
Settle into your armchairs, people. I’ve got a sermon to give. 😉 Okay, just kidding. I’ll try not to pound the pulpit, but…perfectionism has no place in writing. (Tweet this.) Time to learn that.
If you are striving for a perfect book, you have to ask yourself, whose version of perfect? Perfect to your reader? To your publisher? To your editor? To yourself? Every reader is going to be different. Every editor will have a suggested change. And only God is perfect.
To be perfect means that there can be no improvement. No change. Nothing more learned. And that’s the very opposite of writing. Being a writer means to exist in a constant state of growth.
If you are striving for perfection, you’ll never be pleased with your story and you’ll have a hard time handling criticism. (There will be a whole blog post on this soon. 🙂 )
📚 Solution: You have to move past the “errors” that you can’t see. Accept that no author has a perfect book, and instead let your focus be broader–on the purpose for writing. The thrill behind storytelling. The joy of creating and of your Creator. Be satisfied in Christ not in your writing. He is your reward. A published book is just a bonus. 😉
It all comes down to what is first. God or the product?
Also keep in mind that deadlines will murder your inner perfectionist. They will force you to turn in 2nd drafts because a publisher will most likely want to publish a less-than-perfect book on time, than publish a “slightly-better” book late.
You have to get over this, my friend.
6) Maybe your story has a weakness:
This is a simpler fix. Maybe you hate your story because the plot feels weak. Well then, pick up a book on plotting. Study plot. Or maybe your characters feel flat/fake/lame. Then study characters.
Maybe you’re just bored with your story, or a certain scene. Well, if you’re bored, then your reader will probably be bored. So maybe cut the scene or spruce it up or study storytelling.
Here are my two most frequent “go-to” writing books. They’re not going to be a fix-all for everyone, but these are my cure to Kryptonite poisoning. 🙂
7) Maybe it’s not time for you to write this story yet.
Sometimes you get an idea that needs to stew. Sometimes it needs to stew for years. And sometimes it can be very difficult to let it stew.
📚 Solution: Let. It. Stew.
One way to see if you’re ready to write this book yet is to try plotting it out–whether that means literally or in your head. And if it’s feeling half-baked or like a little skeleton (instead of a meaty ogre of a story) then perhaps you should let it sit. I have a story that’s been “sitting” for 13 years. It’s completely different than the original idea I had 13 years ago, but it’s stronger, and better, and I look forward to the day that the stewing ends. 🙂
8) Maybe you can’t pinpoint the problem
One of my college professors once told me that, if you can’t identify the cause of distress or despair, that can be a sign of spiritual attack. Satan loves to work through confusion.
📚 Solution: Pray, pray, pray. List out writing victories. Remind yourself of what God’s done through your writing, or where your writing has taken you. Try writing something new, or reading a favorite book, etc. We serve a God who is at the head of our war. Turn to Him and He will rescue you.
Did I miss any? (I’m sure I did. But this blog post is long enough already…)
Have you ever hated your story?
Do any of these resonate with you?