26 April 2016

Writing Secrets 101 | overcoming discouragement/writer's block

Discouragement is another common writing phenomenon.  It's something every good writer experiences.

I myself, recently struggled through an intense period of discouragement about my writing.  I couldn't write a single word for my stories.  I thought my writing wasn't good enough and that it was hopeless for me to even think of writing books as a career.

It started with the ditching of my very first novel, Where Violets Grow.  I began writing this novel in February 2015 and it has developed enormously since then.  It still remains a revered half story in my history of books, but I realized after a year of constant and hard work on it, that it just wasn't going to pull through my discouragement along with me. 
Letting completely go of this novel was one of the hardest things I have ever done in writing.  I remember right before I got discouraged sitting at the computer and looking at its word count realizing for the first time that it had almost 20,000 words.  I couldn't believe I had gotten that far and I must admit that I shed a few tears. 
This novel had but two problems; however, if you're a writer, you'll know that these are big.  Mostly, it was the weak main character I had created last year that was so uncomplient with the book and plotline.  And then it was the understanding that though Where Violets Grow had a great plotline, well thought through and thorough, that the whole aura of the characters and story I had written was premature and jotted down when I was just learning how to write. 

Sometimes when you are discouraged, the only way to rescue yourself is to just let go. 

A writer I admire (Dorothea Brande) says on the subject in her book 'Becoming a Writer': 
"But then comes the dawning comprehension of all that a writer’s life implies: not easy daydreaming, but hard work at turning the dream into reality without sacrificing all its glamour; not the passive following of someone else’s story, but the finding and finishing of a story of one’s own; not writing a few pages which will be judged for style or correctness alone, but the prospect of turning out paragraph after paragraph after paragraph and page after page which will be read for style, content, and effectiveness. Nor is this by any means all the beginning writer foresees. He worries to think of his immaturity, and wonders how he ever dared to think he had a word worth saying. He gets as stage-struck at the thought of his unseen readers as any sapling actor. He discovers that when he is able to plan a story step by step, the fluency he needs to write it has flown out the window; or that when he lets himself go on a loose rein, suddenly the story is out of hand. He fears that he has a tendency to make his stories all alike, or paralyzes himself with the notion that he will never, when this story is finished, find another that he likes as well. He will begin to follow current reputations and harry himself because he has not this writer’s humor or that one’s ingenuity. He will find a hundred reasons to doubt himself and not one self-confidence. He will suspect that those who encouraged him are too lenient, or too far from the market to know the standards of successful fiction. Or he will read the work of a real genius in words, and the discrepancy between that gift and his own will seem a chasm to swallow his hopes. In such a state, lightened now and again by moments when he feels his own gift alive and surging, he may stay for months or years. Every writer goes through this period of despair. Without doubt many promising writers, and most of those who were never meant to write, turn back at this point and find a lifework less exacting. Others are able to find the other bank of their slough of despond, sometimes by inspiration, sometimes by sheer doggedness. Still others turn to books or counselors. But often they are unable to tell the source of their baffled discomfort; they may even assign the reasons for their feeling of fright to the wrong causes, and think that they miss effectiveness because they “cannot write dialogue,” or “are no good at plots,” or “make all the characters too stiff.” When they have worked as intensively as possible to overcome the weakness, only to find that their difficulties continue, there comes another unofficial weeding-out. Some drop away from this group; still others persist, even though they have reached the stage of dumb discomfort where they no longer feel that they can diagnose their own cases. No ordeal by discouragement which editors, teachers, and older writers can devise is going to kill off the survivor of this type. What he needs to realize first is that he tried to do too much at once, and next, that although he started going about his self-education step-by-step, he took the wrong steps. Most of the methods of training the conscious side of the writer—the craftsman and the critic in him—are actually hostile to the good of the unconscious, the artist’s side; and the converse of this proposition is likewise true. But it is possible to train both sides of the character to work in harmony, and the first step in that education is to consider that you must teach yourself not as though you were one person, but two."


Wise words of a fantastic authoress!  I highly recommend reading this book if you are struggling with writing problems of any sort or are just looking for a good read.

A few suggestions on ways to overcome discouragement or writer's block:
- Engage yourself in writing even if you don't write any but gunk.  As many say, "Get those creative juices flowing!" ;)
- Getting encouragement from others is extremely important!  During my discouragement, I wasn't extremely fortunate in getting a ton of encouragement, though I admit, I didn't realize this would help at the time until I finally did get some encouragement and hence wasn't looking for it in particular.  So again, definitely share some of your work and ask for feedback.
- After a break from your writing of maybe a few weeks, go back to analyze your problem(s) with a clearer head.  This helped me as I became more sure of myself.
- Reading good quality literature and not exactly comparing yourself to a brilliant writer's work, but recognizing where the strong points and the weak point in their writing are.  I recently went through an old-fashioned romance novel enthusiasm which really helped me develop my writing.
- Look around yourself for inspiration of the strangest kind.

Other suggestions are appreciated in the comments below - And if you have any questions, feel free to drop in and leave me a comment.  I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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  1. Great post!:) I find that working on whatever is bothering me (characters, plot points etc) help me feel more confident about my story. If I feel like my characters aren't fully developed, I'll do more question answering about their past, what they like, how they respond, and such and it will help!:) And sometimes just taking a break and thinking about your issues help, too!:) Thanks for this post!

    1. Thank you for the comment! I always enjoy writing these ones a lot and I'm glad you liked it. :)
      I can definitely relate to that. I appreciate your input! :D


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