How to Avoid Writing-related Panic Attacks

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I’ve noticed in the writing blogosphere that a lot of us have bouts of elated “this is the best book ever written” as well as many “nobody will ever like this, I don’t even know why I bother, I’m gonna wipe it all off my computer to spare others the misery” moments. If you’re ever experiencing any of the common writer ailments, please scan down the list for easy fixes.

1) Everybody wants to be a writer, there’s so much competition, what are my chances? Well, if you visit writing blogs, it is easy to feel like everybody wants to be a writer, but you have to remember that it’s mostly because those are the people you talk to. Think of people you’ve actually met. How many of them are writers? Not all that many. Try to keep it in perspective.

2) My character just did something weird/my plot took an unplanned turn, why do I even bother to keep writing, this story will never work now. Remember—you can always, always edit later. It might seem catastrophic at the moment, but if you distance yourself from the particular problem for some time (hopefully by writing the rest of the book), you can always come back and snip, snip until you excise the problem, or remold the scene till it works with the rest of the story.

3) This is taking sooo long. This first draft/first edit/nth edit will NEVER end. Actually, as long as you keep writing a certain amount per day (no matter how little), you are bound to eventually complete your task. Sure, writing more per day will get it done faster, but either way it will eventually finish. Look back at how much you’ve already done. If you write a certain amount per day, estimate how long it will take and remember: it takes time to get a story down and that’s okay. It’s not a race.

4) I’m trying really hard to improve my writing, but the industry trades are changing all the time, different agents have opposing opinions, and even my crit buddies can’t agree on how my story should be changed! All of this may be true, but you have to keep in mind that it’s your story and that everybody has different opinions. Everybody will never agree exactly on what they dislike or like about it, and all of the advice out there will not always be applicable for you. You have to do what’s right for your story and characters, as well as what works for you as a writer.

5) That writer writes so much better than me, I’ll never be that good. You’re probably right. You won’t be that very same good, but you will be your own good. The writers you admire have written for years and years, and the strengths that you admire in them are probably your weaknesses. Which is what makes it interesting. If we all wrote exactly the same way, there won’t be as much variety. Write your own story, write it in your own unique way.

6) All the good ideas are already taken. If you boil it down to broad terms such as friendship, love, revenge, etc—then yes, all of the good ideas have been taken, and have been done over and over again. (Because they’re good!) But you can always add twists, and your own personal touches—the execution, the voice, the characters. In the end, it’s all about shedding new light on old concepts.


That’s all the ones I can think of for now. What problems and doubts do you have with your writing? And even more importantly, how do you deal with them?

15 comments:

Lindz Pagel said...

Excellent, and uplifting post!
Thanks for posting. This is just the dose of positive thinking I needed.

Plamena Schmidt said...

Thanks! That's exactly what I was going for : )

Stina Lindenblatt said...

#4 and #5 are biggies and probably the biggest ones to go against. But they can also help you improve your writing. Okay, maybe #4 will give you a headache more than anything as you try to figure which way to go. Eenie Meanie Minie Moo. :D

Great post!

K.M. Weiland said...

This is a fabulous post (retweeting now!). Writing is very much a roller coaster experience - and, to some extent, that's what makes it so rewarding. If we can gain enough objective distance to realize that the lows are inevitably followed by their fair share of highs, it makes them easier to bear.

SPCWrite said...

So very true. I do this all the time but yet I still keep writing.

Jenna Cooper said...

Thanks for this post! It really keeps everything in perspective and everything in it is true.

WritingNut said...

Thanks so much for the great advice.. you're very right! :)

Michelle Dobbins said...

Great advice! Almost everyone I follow on twitter is a writer and then I meet so many in my online classes and such that I think everyone is a writer, but when I look at local friends there's very few. Thanks for the perspective!

dinasant said...

EXCELLENT post!

Anne R. Allen said...

Great post! I think we've all been there with most of these.

Mallory Snow said...

This is so great! I think every writer has suffered from every one of these at one time or another. I had the plot twist problem this week and really did think of giving up but I'm so glad I didn't because I ironed it all out and can't wait to start writing again! So I love this advice!

houseoflaoch said...

so true. I think that most of those can be boiled down to go ahead and compare yourself to others, but with a grain of salt. We are such a competitive culture that I think that can take some of the joy of the process of improving out of writing. Don't worry that so and so writes faster or is published. Just do your thing.

Plamena Schmidt said...

Thank you for the great comments! I'm glad the post was helpful : )

There were actually two other comments, but blogger ate them (there was some problem with it a few days ago). It feels weird that they're missing so I'm just going to put them up again (luckily I still have them in my e-mail).

Plamena Schmidt said...

Lindz Pagel has left a new comment on your post "How to Avoid Writing-related Panic Attacks":

Excellent, and uplifting post!
Thanks for posting. This is just the dose of positive thinking I needed.

Plamena Schmidt said...

Stina Lindenblatt has left a new comment on your post "How to Avoid Writing-related Panic Attacks":

#4 and #5 are biggies and probably the biggest ones to go against. But they can also help you improve your writing. Okay, maybe #4 will give you a headache more than anything as you try to figure which way to go. Eenie Meanie Minie Moo. :D

Great post!