Are you writing a book? And of course by “writing” I mean totally stuck/focusing on all of the ways you and your book are inadequate/typing then deleting every other sentence?
Maybe your story has plateaued, or the characters are flat, or the timelines don’t make sense. Maybe you’re halfway through and realizing that you dropped a subplot along the way. Or maybe you’ve determined for the several hundredth time that you are a terrible writer with nothing to say and are more than half-convinced you should just delete the whole thing.
If so, you, like me, are in need of a pep talk.
Instead of curling around this bag of Salt & Vinegar potato chips, I’m going to channel my inner Coach Taylor for y’all because we owe it to our stories to get our sh-t together.
First of all, I get it. Hustling to get your words on a page day in and day out is draining. Sometimes the only light at the end of that tunnel is imagining those words done, in a beautifully real, bound book that you can hold. You hold that image in your mind and manage to feel good and motivated for a record amount of time as you plow through your story.
Then the story starts to drag. Your energy around it starts to wane. Your complicated little demons start poking holes in your confidence.
You become convinced this whole writing-a-novel-thing is an exercise in futility.
I get it. So are you going to quit? Because you can if you want. Just stop.
What the hell, Coach? I don’t want to STOP, I just want it to be easier.
Too bad. It’s not easy. This point, the one before deadlines, editors, sales expectations or obligations is about as easy as it’s ever going to get. If you can’t handle this, you won’t be able to handle the whole thing if and when success does come. The only easy thing you can do when writing a book is stopping.
So you have two options: give up or double-down.
Okay, it’s not that serious, Coach… maybe I just need a break?
Great! Then do that. Go binge Friday Night Lights on Netflix then come back to the work when you’re refreshed and realigned. Pep talk done. I’m amazing.
But it’s not that simple, Coach. I want to work through these issues with my book, not abandon them.
Then keep at it. Don’t stop writing. All you have to do is stop worrying about the bullsh-t that goes along with it.
Writing a book takes WORK. Breaking into the publishing world takes WORK. Finding an audience takes WORK.
But step one is finishing the book. Don’t worry about the rest of it yet. Put blinders on and write. Do whatever it takes to push you back on track. Write mantras, delete social media, go dancing. I don’t care what it is, just don’t stop writing. Write around it. Write through it. Write about it (a pep talk, perhaps?). But just keep writing.
Writing a book is too hard, Coach! But it’s also all I want to do! I’m full of angst!
Yup. Welcome to being an artist, son. You have to MAKE YOURSELF do it.
I just don’t know if I have what it takes.
Look, none of us do. But do you want to always wonder or do you want to know? The years will pass either way, how do you want to spend them?
Ultimately, just keep at it. If giving up is not an option, if that feels incongruous with your dreams/goals/soul, then you, my friend, are going to be just fine. Let that passion fuel you. Put your blinders on and tell your inner critic to shut their damn mouth because you have a book to write.