I’m not sure what’s gone wrong. I enjoy writing, I’m happy to be writing every day, and I feel proud and accomplished after every writing session. Furthermore, I’ve been doing it long enough that it’s basically become a habit, so why stop now?
My problem is that I’ve had a few days in a row where I’m doubting myself. I’m wondering where the story is going. I’m asking myself why the reader should care. I’m writing things in the margins like “this section sucks” on days when my creativity is lacking.
I’ve started to lose interest in my own story.
When it comes to novels, I’ve always had this problem. I never know ahead of time where the story is going. There’s never an ending planned out. This is because I try to write the way Stephen King writes: I take an ordinary person, put them in an extraordinary situation, and see how things play out. Unlike King, though, I’m unable to write 20 pages per day… I’m spent after only four.
Another issue is that every time I sit down to continue where I left off, what I really want to do is page through what I’ve already written. Revising something I’ve already written is a billion times easier than writing something new.
Sad thing is, I’ve been down that road before. I once wrote an opening to a manuscript where I introduced characters and gave some foreshadowing as to the upcoming story. When I went to write the next chapter, I re-read what I had already written, and then decided to change it — because it wasn’t perfect. The next time I went to start the next chapter, I needed to re-read the opening thinking “I need to remember where I left off.” Once again, I improved the opening instead of writing something new.
Every time I sat down to continue the story, I chose to edit the existing intro instead of start the next chapter. Nothing new was ever being created. I must have spent three months revising the same ten pages — and what for? For a story that nobody knows because I never told it!
It was the first in my long list of incomplete books.
I’m frustrated because I want to write, I desperately want to be successful at it — and somehow I always fail. I’ve gone so far as to create a designated writing room in my apartment (a 5′ x 9′ space that’s simply a writing desk behind a door) to help me commit to my craft — but I don’t use it!
My excuse is that I don’t have a laptop for the room. I have to use pen and paper. It’s a lame excuse.
You see, I create these obstacles that don’t really exist so that I can have an excuse for failing at what I’ve set at to do without feeling too bad about it:
“I can’t write without a dedicated writing space.” So then I create it.
“I need a dedicated laptop for my writing space.” So then I research laptop prices.
“I can’t afford to spend that much on something I can live without.” So now I’ve resigned to the idea that I’ll wait until my birthday before I spend a few thousand dollars on myself.
But I suspect that even after I have my dedicated writing laptop in my dedicated writing room, I will most likely allow some other obstacles to get in my way. I imagine I’ll use the excuse “Well since I’ve been at work all day and Cassie’s been home alone all day, it’s probably best if I spend the evening with my girlfriend, and not alone in my writing room.”
I dunno. There’s this certain sense of urgency, a yearning for immediacy, that I approach my goals with. I want results, and I want them now. Despite the fact that I know how I need to put in the hours and work towards my goals gradually, I impatiently try to will them into fruition without doing anything but whining about how hard it is!
For me, “Sometimes done is better than perfect” would be the ideal approach to actually create a story instead of just another unfinished story, but the process wears on my patience and conflicts with my incessant desire to create “good” writing. Consequently, I tend to throw in the towel before I finish anything.
Does anyone else struggle with this? How do you deal with it?
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