If you have ever attempted writing a book you will probably know these struggles:
- Coming up with ONE idea that is simply brilliant. In the middle of the night.
- Putting up motivational notes over your desk.
- Telling everyone you are writing a book.
- Working on the idea for a few weeks and realising that it is not that good after all.
- Actually all you do is sit in front of a blank page.
- Because you are scared.
- Scared of yourself.
- And your idea.
- Feeling like you have lost all your motivation.
- Feeling like you have lost your ability to write sentences.
- To write words.
- Realising that the structure of your book doesn’t make sense.
- Deleting all pages you have written thus far.
- Starting all over.
- Having 25 different versions of your book on your computer.
- Some of them dating back to five years ago.
- Reading all texts you can get, related to your topic.
- Never being able to stop doing research.
- Still feeling like you know nothing.
- Making a plan to wake up early to write.
- Waking up at noon.
- Writing until 4 at night.
- Spilling a cup of tea in your bed when writing late at night.
- Calling your friends and whining about not being able to write anymore.
- In the middle of the night.
- Doing anything else but writing your book.
- Dusting your shelves.
- Cleaning your windows.
- Twice a day.
- Falling into an existential crisis.
- Sending your friends a chapter of your work.
- Getting back a crying-laughter smiley.
- Or a question mark.
- Deciding to stop working on your project.
- Deleting all evidence from your computer.
- Letting it rest for a few months.
- Forgetting about it.
- Until one night… (Start from the top.)
A few days ago I had to review the entire structure of my book. It had too many cracks and wasn’t well thought through. Let’s hope that my motivation will last for a little while and I will finish a first draft. It’s always a race of me against my self-doubts.
Here’s a great quote from Annie Dillard’s book “The Writing Life” if you find yourself in a similar situation.
When you are stuck in a book; when you are well into writing it, and know what comes next, and yet cannot go on; when every morning for a week or a month you enter its room and turn your back on it; then the trouble is either of two things. Either the structure has forked, so the narrative, or the logic, has developed a hairline fracture that will shortly split it up the middle — or you are approaching a fatal mistake. What you had planned will not do. If you pursue your present course, the book will explode or collapse, and you do not know about it yet, quite.
What do you do? Acknowledge, first, that you cannot do nothing. Lay out the structure you already have, x-ray it for a hairline fracture, find it, and think about it for a week or a year; solve the insoluble problem. Or subject the next part, the part at which the worker balks, to harsh tests. It harbors an unexamined and wrong premise. Something completely necessary is false or fatal. Once you find it, and if you can accept the finding, of course it will mean starting again. This is why many experienced writers urge young men and women to learn a useful trade.
How are your writing projects going? Any tips on overcoming writer’s block?