Every so often, when my creative well has run dry, I get discouraged about my writing.
I understand (from my community of writing friends and my shelf of craft books) that this is fairly common among the creative. Even if you’ve experienced writing/publishing success in the past, its not unusual to feel like a fraud wondering if your luck has just run out.
The best way I know how to defeat impostor syndrome is by listing out the arguments (however ridiculous) posed by my defeatist brain and refuting every one.
After completed and publishing The Mourning Ring, my brain has been resistant to returning to work on a new writing project. Some of the false logic it uses includes:
- “I should be doing more to promote The Mourning Ring since I self-published.” I have things in the works to promote TMR throughout the next three years of the Bronte bicentennial.
- “TMR was the novel I was born to write. No other project will make me as excited or passionate.” It’s true that writing TMR was a passion project for me. It allowed me to live inside the minds of my favorite authors and play with them. But there are other stories I want to tell; characters I want to create.
- “Drafting the new novel is harder than it should be. This must be my brain’s way of telling me the project won’t work. I should stop wasting my time.” All first drafts are hard. It took me two years to complete a readable draft of the YA Horror novel I wrote while getting my MFA. I completed the first draft of TMR in six weeks (having been a fan of the Brontes for over a decade, a lot of the research was already done when I started writing TMR). But then I spent another year working with Beta readers, revising it, querying, receiving rejections, then revising it some more until it took its current form. It’s easy to pretend the published version emerged fully formed from my head like a goddess from Greek myth, but that’s not how it happened.
- “No one wants to read the story I’m telling so what’s the point?” I don’t know what kind of story I’m telling at this point–and I won’t until the draft is completed. I’ll worry about audience and comparison titles later.
Though these whispers of self-doubt are seductive, leading me to indulge in more Netflix marathons or house chores, at the end of the day I feel guilty for not having written.
Writing takes time and I’m not a patient person. I don’t like wasting days writing awkward transitional scenes that I know will never make it to the final draft. But I must keep writing forward. I have to start with something to make the story hang together and I have to learn to be okay with spending time making mistakes in the drafting process.
So this year I am making a resolution to give myself more TIME in my writing–time to play, time to produce shitty first drafts, even time away from the project when I start to hate its ugly, misshapen form.
To accomplish this, I’ll be implementing the three habit system (Process, Product, Self-Care) outlined in Around the Writer’s Block: Using Brain Science to Solve Writer’s Resistance. Stay tuned for future posts on my progress!
**If you’re interested in reading more about the brain science behind writer’s resistance, I highly recommend Rosanne Bane’s Around the Writer’s Block: Using Brain Science to Solve Writer’s Resistance
Have you made a Writing Resolution? If so, share it in the comments section below.