I figure as long as my writer’s block doesn’t get this bad, I’m doing fine.
Still, this week has been a bit of a downer, one of those periods where I’m really busy — which is good — but feeling like I’m not doing the right things, like I should be writing when I’m reading, I should be reading when I’m exercising, I should be exercising when I’m working on blog mechanics, etc. The toughest voice inside my head is the one that throws out words and phrases like “charlatan,” “phony,” “you don’t know what you’re doing,” “you’re not a real writer.”
I always seem to pull myself back from the abyss somehow. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve got a writer friend with some connections who’s tossed me some editing work over the last few weeks. It keeps me focused and reminds me that I do know how to put words together.
It also helps when I read about other writers’ struggles, like these lines that I could really identify with:
“‘I go and I buy my groceries at the 99-cent store—a really depressing way to spend the day. I started crying on the way home, filled with self-pity and a legitimate questioning of the incredibly bad decisions I’d made.’ Writing, it seemed, was one of those bad decisions. ‘I gave it a try,’ she decided, ‘and it’s not working out. I need to let go.’ She headed home with her 99-cent groceries and tears and self-doubt. And waiting on the answering machine was a message from Laura Hrushka, renowned editor-in-chief of Soho Press. ‘She wanted to buy my first book.'”
That’s from an interview of Sara Gran, who’s just wrote her fourth novel, Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead, in an interview published June 22, 2011, in The Atlantic.
So you never can tell where things are going, and I’ll take that interview as a sign to stay positive and not give up. Believe me, I’ve had my share of buying groceries at the dollar store and even some days where lunch was a 25-cent bag of chips from the bodego. “My novel” isn’t ready yet, but I have made a living as a writer and an editor since my early 20s, and I know at least I’m on the right track.
A quick search for quotes from other writers came up with this gem:
“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” ~Sylvia Plath.
You don’t have to tell me. It’s probably not such a great idea to quote a suicidal genius.