Tears, Fears, and Switching Gears

There’s this annoying dilemma I have of needing to write but not knowing how to go about it. I finished my third novel a month or so ago. For maybe a day I was proud, excited, and full of all sorts of similar happy feelings. But then I’d get out of bed, sit down at the computer, and realize I had nothing new to write. That story was written, done.  I suddenly didn’t know what to do with my life anymore.

You spend five to ten hours a day writing, working towards the goal of finishing your book, and when you finally reach the end, what’s next? I wanted to be writing again. But the prospect of diving right into a new project was just as overwhelming. So I’ve taken some time away and now I want to make the jump. I miss writing like you would miss a friend who moved away.

So that’s decided. But there’s still the issue of what to write. I have a handful of novel ideas and notes for different projects, but where do I start? How do I choose?  It’s tough because you get your mind so completely focused on one project while you’re immersed in it. Then when it’s done your mind can be free and branch out. It starts thinking of all the possibilities and ideas you didn’t know you had. So I’ve had snippets of dialogue for one book pop into my head, character arcs for another book stream their way in, action scenes flesh themselves out, and even just vague little ideas that are waiting to be explored. My mind is all over the place, but I have to choose just one to give my time, focus, and heart.

I think that’s what scares me. I’m afraid to jump into one project, see it fail, and have my time wasted. I’m afraid I won’t be able to make something awesome out of those little snippets and ideas. I’m afraid I’m still not good enough.

People close to me believe that since I’ve already written three books, I’ll always be able to churn another one out, no problem. But some days I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. I think my first book was a learning experience, my second one helped me grow, and my third one I just got lucky. I know having three manuscripts is a big accomplishment, and I believe in my work and love what I created. But that doesn’t stop me from feeling like this is as good as it gets.

Some days I believe with all my heart my work will be published and on the shelves. Other days I wonder who I think I’m fooling. How could my books sit on the same shelves as my favorite authors? How could I ever be their “colleague?”

But as I’ve said before, I write for me. Maybe I’ll get published, maybe I won’t. But I have to keep writing. I have to continue to explore these ideas and strengthen my storytelling abilities. I don’t know how many books it will take before I say, “Okay, I’ve got the hang of this. I’m definitely an author.”  I guess this is all just part of the process. It’s one of those love/hate relationships. Fear of rejection, of the unknown, of not believing you’re good enough, of waiting to hear back…they are all on the hate side. But they should be embraced as strongly as the things on the love half. You can’t have one without the other, and together they both push you forward and shape you into a better writer.

What kind of person would I be if I instantly thought my first novel was perfection? How do you improve and persevere if you never experience a rejection letter? How is your writing a journey if you think you know everything that’s ahead and leave no room for surprises? Does anyone believe they are good enough every single day? There is good and there is bad, and they are normal, necessary, and important attributes to your writing lifestyle and learning experience.

You may hate yourself and your writing one day and want to give up or burn everything you wrote. It’s okay. That’s normal. You may think you’re a writing master and the world needs to see what you have to offer as soon as you write the last chapter’s last word. That’s okay too. You should be proud and hold onto that hope. You may experience fifty rejections or wait six months to hear any news. Don’t give up. You may not know what to write next or how to go about it. But you have to keep writing.

For me, my first novel is waiting for another round of edits. It’s been rewritten and reworked so many times I’m not sure it will ever be right. My second novel has been in the query phase since this summer, and my third and most recent novel is patiently waiting its turn. So now I’m moving forward with novel four, whatever it may be. Because even though I’m not happy with my first, I’ve been rejected and am still waiting to hear news on my second, and I don’t know what lies ahead, I’m still going to dive in on a new project. I’m still going to write. I’m going to accept the good and the bad, love my work and hate my work, question myself and believe in myself, and just write.

What are you afraid of when it comes to writing? What do you love about it? What do you hate? Share your opinions in the comment section below!

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