Crippling self-doubt & insecurity (and other things that stop writers from writing)
I wouldn’t really say that I get writer’s block. I fully believe in Stephen King’s quote about how “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” I also believe that the best cure for not knowing what to write is to write, and, for better or for worse, I never really run out of things to say or ideas.
But that doesn’t mean the writing life is always smooth sailing.
Speaking of The Writing Life, Annie Dillard put it best when she said:
A work in progress quickly becomes feral. It reverts to a wild state overnight. It is barely domesticated, a mustang on which you one day fastened a halter, but which now you cannot catch. It is a lion you cage in your study. As the work grows, it gets harder to control; it is a lion growing in strength. You must visit it every day and reassert your mastery over it. If you skip a day, you are, quite rightly, afraid to open the door to its room. You enter its room with bravura, holding a chair at the thing and shouting, “Simba!”
Yeah. It’s not writer’s block that stops me. It’s wrestling with the lion, trying to tame the mustang. It’s a Feed Me Seymour little shop of horrors demanding more of my blood. It’s
like fearing and halfway assuming there’s no way you can do this, you bit off more than you can chew this time, this
Isn’t any good
It’s a wreck
What were you thinking???
which morphs into
Mountains of insecurity
as things like, “You’re nothing but a one-hit wonder,” and “Nobody’s going to like this — you know that, right?” and “You’ll never write another book like the one you did last time; nothing else will ever be as good or succeed in the same way.”
So instead of writing, what you do instead is
Scour Amazon Prime for something to watch for so long that you could’ve watched two or three shows in the time it took you to pick something
because you don’t really *want* to watch anything. What you *want* to do is write, but of course you can’t write
(because of all the reasons already mentioned above)
and so rather than writing, when the Amazon show is finally done and it’s probably time to go to bed, you think, “Maybe I should just try to work on a chapter…”
“Maybe I should just go to bed…”
and instead of doing either, you think, “Naw. I’ll just
and then I’ll go to bed.”
And (you know this story) Facebook leads to YouTube, and you watch Jon Oliver or SNL clips or search for a new fanfic to read or find random interviews with that actress you think is kinda cute and then, as long as you’re at it, and just because you’re curious
(not because you care, no, certainly not *that*, how shallow *that* would be, in reality it’s ALL about the ART)
you check your Amazon sales report one more time, which means you also have to check your book page, just to see if there are any new reviews
(and if there are… are they horrible? (please say no))
because it’s like a train wreck, you don’t want to look, but you can’t look away, and it’s *definitely* past bed time now, and maybe you really could write JUST A PARAGRAPH, but you open the file, and you read a little, and you realize:
“My God. It’s gone feral.”
So you close the file as quickly as you can, but then what you find is, unfortunately, you’re back to
and the cycle starts all over again.
I wouldn’t call it writer’s block. It’s not confusion about where the story’s going to go — because I know where it’s going. It’s not a lack of words — because I don’t run out of those. It’s not about not having the time, or worrying about whether or not the character dialog sounds right, or any of the other things people talk about when they say they have “writer’s block.”
No… it’s about pouring your heart and soul into something and worrying that you’ll find out that your heart isn’t big enough, your soul comes up short.
But then eventually, you realize everything (everything written above, that is) is a bunch of bull, just total BULL, and you shake your head, and you have a good laugh at yourself, and then you know what you do?