Sunday, November 15, 2009

Self-Doubt and the Phases of Writing a Novel

I'm currently working on a WIP that excites me very much. I wrote the first fifty pages in two weeks (and no, it wasn't NaNo time) and thought incessantly about the plot, the characters, and fun ways to kill off certain of those characters. Then, as always seems to happen, I ran into a quagmire of doubt, sluggish prose, and dialogue with less crackle than a bowl of Cheerios that had been soaked in milk for a few hours. My beloved project suddenly weighed me down and instead of anticipating my writing sessions, I dreaded them.

This, of course, led to several weeks of doubting myself as a writer. I was just a big old fake. I talked to several other writers (thank goodness for writer's groups!) and found out I was not alone. I then remembered a brilliant post I'd read a few months back by Libba Bray, comparing the stages of writing a novel to a relationship. I post it here for your enjoyment.

Within Ms. Bray's post is a link to another blog by Justine Larbestier about Bad Writing Days.
I also include this link for your amusement.

Both posts pretty much sum up the fact that the majority of writers go through the same phases of infatuation, love, disappointment, resentment, make-up sex, and the inevitable break-up with each project they undertake. And we all have bad writing days. Remembering this always makes me feel much better when I start pounding my head against the wall when things aren't going well.


Jean Henry Mead said...

Yep, we all have bad writing days, but you gotta get something down, even if you have to rewrite the entire piece the following day. It's too easy to simply get up and run to the mall or work in the garden instead. It's essential to write SOMETHING every day.

Dana Fredsti said...

I agree, Jean. For me, it just helps to remember I'm not the only writer in history that goes through these phases. :-)

M. J. Macie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
M. J. Macie said...

I went through the exact same thing! It would've been easier to pull my own teeth out than to get back to work on the novel. Then I read Elizabeth George's, Write Away and found that she put snippets from her private journal at the beginning of each chapter. How encouraging! To realize that one of the greatest authors of our time experiences the same doubts and anxiety that I do, gave me the incentive to get off the couch and get back to work.
Also, I joined your blog and would like to invite you to check out mine: