Over the weekend I finished BIG MAGIC by Elizabeth Gilbert, and I have to say right off the bat, GO GET YOUR HANDS ON THIS BOOK NOW! There’s nothing like reading a book by someone who understands the crazy roller coaster writers go through on a regular basis. Barely halfway through the book, and I was back on the computer with my story after nearly two weeks of doing nothing. I feel like this book was an extended hand, reaching down to help me pull myself out of yet another writerly pity party. I have a feeling I’ll be reading this book multiple times. 😉
It wasn’t like this was a story that wasn’t ready. It wasn’t turning into a giant, crappy mess. It wasn’t making me miserable. I didn’t get super side-tracked and off in crazy land with the plot (outside of how crazy it already is, I mean.) No. I was excited, the story was flowing like a waterfall, and I really, really wanted to work on it!
But of course, whenever things are going well, fear and worry and panic attacks are not far behind. I actually had a panic attack one night while working on it. My character was also having a panic attack. I got to a stopping place, breathed through it, and went back at it the next day, because THIS IS WHAT WE DO! #writersbewriting
And really, the doubt and anxiety will melt away into elation, just like the elation melted away into crisis. Roller coaster. It’s not about not having a crisis. It’s about not letting those moments stand in your way and keep you down. There’s this quote I had on my calendar once: it’s not about the number of times you fall – it’s about the number of times you pick yourself up again. 🙂
When I was younger and struggling to put a coherent novel together, I thought struggling was something I would grow out of as I improved. I truly thought that I would get to a day where I would sit down and write a book, and it would come out perfect the first time without a lot of flailing around. You can laugh. I’m laughing at myself. How cute I was! ^_^
These days, I realize that we don’t struggle less. It never gets easier. In a way that’s a relief. We don’t have to be perfect! We don’t have to chase after the impossible! (whew!) The difference between then and now is that I’ve embraced the struggling. It’s going to happen, unfortunately. It’s ALWAYS going to happen. This is why we need books like BIG MAGIC. This is why it’s important to learn how to talk ourselves off of invisible bridges.
The afternoon I got back into my story, I sat curled up on the couch with my nose pressed against a book, and I thought, “Here am I, head in the sand, dragging my feet for what reason?” So I asked myself, “Do you want to write this freaking story or not?” And because cool people talk to themselves like this #likeaboss, I replied, “Heck yeah I want to write this book!” So, I told myself to get to it then. After all, nothing is standing in my way.
It’s true that I’m afraid of failing. But how many times have I failed at this point? Sometimes I don’t like to think about, but really, if nothing else it’s a testament to my
stubbornness survival skills. I’ve failed so. many. times. Every story that I’ve finished has a trail of three or four or more stories that didn’t get finished behind it. If I made it through those, I can survive through one more failed novel, if it comes to that. 😎 I’m a writer after all, and stories always want to be told. 🙂