I had a crisis of confidence today. These things happen from time to time, so I’m used to them. Happened with the last book, and it’s a good bet that it’ll happen with the next one, too. But it’s never pretty.
I work myself into a right old state. I can’t seem to focus on the solution and go round and round the problem in ever decreasing circles until my ability to write anything from a shopping list upwards just freezes. Copious amounts of tea sometimes helps. Copious amounts of chocolate, too–except I’m not allowed to eat that at the minute.
So there I was this lunchtime, teetering on the precipice of a full-on hissy-fit of frustration, when my Darling Beloved texts me a cheery message to see how I’m getting on. Thirty seconds later I’m bawling my eyes out on the phone to him, snots bubbling, voice gone all high-pitched and wobbly, the works. The last four chapters were utter crap <sniffle> they’d have to be rewritten again <sob> I’d never get this book finished in time <honk, blurt, wipe, wipe>… You get the picture.
Fifteen minutes later, I’m a different person. I looked again at the offending four chapters and discovered that 75% of the problems were all in my head, and fixed them in less than 500 words, total. Suddenly I’m on a roll, and everything’s clear. Motivations are credible, bad guys are suitably chilling, and the dialogue I’d sweated over for days is clean and crisp and rapier-sharp. All for the price of a few Kleenex. Hurrah!
So you see, you should never underestimate the therapeutic value of a really good blub. Sometimes it really does make you feel better.
Hi Ellie, glad you got your problems sorted out. I think we’ve all been in a similar situation with a manuscript, when it refuses to cooperate and it seems like it never will. The frustration only makes the problem worse. For me it helps to get out for a while – see some friends, a movie, whatever – and forget about the story for a while. Once it stops feeling like the whole world, I can tackle it.
Yep, been there. I find a break helps, just something completely non-writing related, then going back with a clearer mind. For me, beating the cr*p out of something/someone always works! 😛
Ha ha ha. Been there. Not the crying part. The miserable git part though. I take walks, with the dogs. Or go out with the iPod. Ride. Anything that is not writing.
It’s hard though. Very hard. And I believe the hardest is this thing that lodges itself in our heads that even though we’ve done it a thousand times before, written the most gorgeous stuff, the most elucidating, brilliant, whatever, each day, we have to prove ourselves anew–to ourselves. Because it’s not like performing as a pianist–you learn the music there. Yes, one trusts that one grows with it and in understanding of it. But each chapter, for a writer, is a chapter that’s never been done before…virgin territory. Always a frightening place.