I am currently writing/attempting to write/failing to write my 13th book.
Authors often talk about murky middles or needing to stick the landing, but I’m going to be honest. For me, writing a first draft is one long doubt-ridden roller coaster, punctuated by brief moments of hope and long swells of you-suck-you-suck-you-suck.
This isn’t a matter of self-doubt and self-loathing.
This is a matter of being WILLING to write badly. To let yourself fail over and over again, to resist the urge to hold down delete and get. To. The. End.
For me, writing a first draft is an exercise in controlled failure. Or at least, controlled falling.
The dilemma is that, the more books you write, the more aware you become of when things are Not Working, but no matter how many books you write, you don’t become magically capable of fixing something until you have something to fix.
The amount of time I spend resisting this, the time I spend trying to nail a landing without ever hitting the springs, is astonishing.
It’s also compounded by the fact that, while trying to write something good instead of letting myself write something bad, I’m ALSO usually doing the final read on a book I’ve already written, and revised, and seen through every painful step. So not only am I faced with an inferiority complex born of other writers’ work, I’m faced with my own evident decline, since there’s no way I’ll ever write something that good again.
Ignoring, of course, the fact it wasn’t good when I first started. The fact that at some point I had to simply let go, enter that controlled fall that is a beginning.
This isn’t a post with any advice. It’s simply a post to say that no matter how many books you write, some voices don’t go away. Some voices even get louder. And the only way to shoulder past is to remind yourself over and over and over again that the only thing you can’t improve on is a blank page.
Yours from the trenches,