I always reach a panic stage when I’m writing a novel. I hit the “What the hell am I doing?” “Can I really pull this off?” stage and this can happen at any point–in the beginning, middle or end of a project. You’d think I would have defeated this by now. But it happens every time. I’ll complete one book and then stare at my next project as though I’ve never written before. I don’t know why this happens, but I have a few theories:
1. Each book has its own special problem to solve.
2. The Doubt Demon loves an unfinished project.
3. Writing is a craft that no one masters.
4. I’m trying to write a perfect first draft (and failing).
I have more theories, but I won’t bore you with them because I prefer solutions. Here is my remedy for this agonizing stage.
Perfectionists take note.
I dare to be wonderfully imperfect. I ignore glaring flaws, lack of reasoning, impossible plot twists, tired phrases and cliches and I just get the story down. I can always edit later, which I do, ruthlessly. Oh, and I always pretend only my Ideal Reader will read it, therefore I don’t worry about the critics (the critic in my mind is bad enough).
This has been the way I’ve been able to write book after book. But also I fill my well (my creative mind) with walks, good food, movies and other entertainment. I also turn to other books for help and guidance.
This quote from Dorothea Brande gives me courage.
“All that is necessary to break the spell of inertia and frustration is this: Act as if it were impossible to fail. This is the tailsman, the formula, the command of right-about-face which turns us from failure towards success.”
What do you do when you’re frustrated with a story?