Facts of Life,  Writer's Block,  Writing Journey,  Writing World

Green-Eyed Writing Monster

Without getting into too much detail, for brevity’s sake, I recently read a couple of things that had me wanting to quit writing. In full disclosure, I am totally fine. But I had a moment, so let’s talk about it. ^_^

So, I was reading, and I suddenly started thinking: Gah, why is everyone better than me?

Like any sane person, I talk to myself. And Me and I had a conversation about why I was in danger of falling into a ditch, and I had to ask myself if part of the reason could be because I was jealous. I wasn’t jealous of anything that’s particularly difficult to do. It’s just something I don’t do naturally. Like, it doesn’t even cross my mind. Analyzing things the way I do, not only is this “issue” easy to remedy, it’s so simple, I really can’t understand why it took me so long to see it.

Perhaps the reason it’s so clear now is because I was already thinking about how I end my stories and wondering how I could improve this area of my writing. I wasn’t upset about it. It’s just something I want to work on. But then I read a story with this amazing tension-filled ending, and I was equal parts wowed and angry.

In true me fashion, envy spawned into full-blown despair, and then I was like, “WHY DO I EVEN BOTHER?!” And that spawned a debilitating case of “I’m just not good enough.”

I sank further into the abyss, but basically, I was just like, “I can’t freaking do this anymore!” Why not just quit?! Yes, we all know that I’m dramatic by now, and it’s hilarious looking back, but I was really upset at the time!

So, the me in my head that I was having a conversation with reminded me of this quote I love by Jim Carey: “Your need for acceptance can make you invisible in this world.” Actually, the me in my head misquoted, but I corrected her…myself. Then myself tells me that I have to fight my way out of this, and if I’m going to be jealous than I have two options. Fix the real or perceived problem or give up. If I’m mad that I’m not putting my characters into more danger, then hello, PUT THEM INTO MORE DANGER!! It’s not like it would be difficult. I write fantasy!

At this point, I was kind of like, “Okay. How do I pull myself together?” To which the me in my head couldn’t help, because she’s me, and she only knows what I know. But then I thought, hey, didn’t I record a Q&A panel at writing conference a couple of years ago for this very reason? To help my crazy ass out of a ditch just like the one I’m currently finding myself in?

So, I pull up the recording, and sure enough, I get to the part I needed to hear, near the end of the hour long recording, of course. One of the authors said that when we’re struggling and when we feel like a failure, we have to find a way to get over it. If we can’t, then we have to ask ourselves if we really want to continue writing.

And that is what I was seriously asking myself. Did I even want to keep writing? But other me said that if I didn’t want to keep writing, I would just quit. I wouldn’t listen to conference recordings, and I certainly wouldn’t be talking to myself…about writing. I’m doing all of those things because I do want to keep writing. So then there was no longer a decision to be made. I’m a storyteller, and I have to fight for that when I’m down.

So, I thought: isn’t my excitement for my writing the only thing that ever matters? If I’m excited about my current project, or any project, isn’t that enough? Do I need to be confident? Do I need to take it seriously? Do I need to care if it’s better than my last story?

The answer is yes, it is enough. And no, I don’t need to be confident or serious or care if it’s better than anything I wrote before it. Because I’m not going to improve if I’m worried. I improve by continuing to write and by continuing to challenge myself in a fun way. And learning. Continuing to learn stuff is good.

The biggest problem I always have with my writing is that I worry about the final product before I even have words on the page. But I don’t worry over my blog posts, except when I’m sounding insane. And I don’t worry about my song lyrics being stupid. I don’t put pressure on these things. They don’t have to do anything except exist. Why not approach my fiction the same way? After all, even the worst song, blog post, and story that I ever wrote is something that’s fun to look over later, because they all have memories attached to them.

I’d rather keep writing and struggling through stuff, then quit over confidence issues or whatever. There’s no reason for me to ever feel like I’m not “good enough.” But I also don’t have to be “good enough” to write anything. I just need to do it.


    • Krystal Jane

      I feel like I can’t see how to improve things to that next level until the comparison gnome shows up with an awesome book in his paws, but I’m definitely not going to start writing thrillers or anything.

  • Tonja Drecker

    It’s always a treat to get lost in someone else’s amazing writing, and it’s silly how we get pulled into self-doubt sometimes because of it. My co-author has been battling the self-doubt monster lately, which has kept me from slipping into that hole (which I usually would have dozens of times by now). But I keep having to pull him out. So, maybe that’s the secret?

    • Krystal Jane

      That probably is the secret. Helping someone else with their doubt battle usually keeps me from sinking into a pit. At the same time, I don’t think my writing skills could level up without a mini (or not so mini) doubt battle from time to time.

  • Jodi Perkins (@Perkjo)

    Oh, I utterly empathize with this, Krystal. I remember reading Unwind by Neal Shusterman and wanting to throw in the towel. It was so dark and disturbing (without being too horrific) with awesome characters and a compelling plot. Sometimes I read something so well fleshed-out that it leaves me feeling a sort of sick awe–like “How on earth can a person create a world so complicated and so cool?”–which in turn leaves me feeling like a wannabe writer. Luckily it does swing both ways. I read a lot of freebies from BookBub and I’m happy to report that you and I both write better than many of those authors. And if it makes you feel better, I’ve always been jealous of your smooth, flawless writing. Every time I read one of your novels, the story flows so beautifully…you make it look effortless.

    What book had you down in the dumps? Now I want to read it so I can beat myself up too! 😉

    • Krystal Jane

      Lol! It’s so funny, because I’m jealous of how suspenseful your stories are and how much tension there is. Like, people’s lives are in danger and I wish I could fear for my characters that much. I do every once in a while but not nearly as much as I want. Clearly. Lol!

      Lately, I’ve been trying to figure out how to improve the pacing of my endings, so I was rereading sections of Some Quiet Place by Kelsey Sutton because I remember even years ago thinking about how patient and thorough that ending is, and also Unlocked by Margo Kelly, and I love the risks they both took with their stories, and I’m like WHY CAN’T I DO THIS?

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