Updated: Jan 29, 2021
Writing is hard, but it isn't just hard. There's been a point in every story I've ever written where I felt like it would be better to give up entirely, like I would be doing the world a favor by throwing my notebook or my laptop in the garbage.
If you're at that dark place right now, I'm here to tell you not to give up.
Don't hate on your first draft
First drafts are rough by nature. There's a reason they're called "rough drafts." What you're writing right now might be a hot mess, but it won't stay that way.
All you have to do right now is get words on the page. Once the draft is there, you can revise and edit and craft it into something pretty.
And this isn't a newbie-only thing. All writers have to edit their first drafts. The books you see in bookstores and libraries have been edited and improved with many people's help. So don't hate your ugly newborn baby!
And if you're on a later draft and it still isn't where you want it to be, that's okay! You can keep revising and keep editing until it shines. Don't give up on your story just because it isn't done yet.
You aren't alone
Writing is incredibly tough, but you're not alone! There are so many other writers in the same place you are—find your community. If you participate in NaNoWriMo, you're already part of a community of hundreds of thousands of writers doing the same thing you are.
Put yourself out there and talk to people on forums, on Instagram comments, on Facebook groups. You'll bond with someone, maybe multiple someones. Even one person you can message and say, "hey, words are hard today," will make a huge difference.
Don't play the comparison game; no one wins
Don't sabotage yourself by comparing yourself to other creators and other writers. What are you accomplishing? Nothing. You're just training your brain to think negatively about your own work.
No one woke up one morning and magically produced a perfect book.
A) There is no perfect book. Your favorite book in the world has received 1-star reviews. I know, I want to kick those people too.
B) Creating a story is hard work! Writing takes time and tons of practice to improve!
So put aside your ideas of "this other person is so much better than I am" or "this other writer makes it look easy." They might make it LOOK easy, but that doesn't mean it IS.
Remember what we said before—those authors had editors, beta readers, plenty of other people who contributed to the process. You aren't looking at their first draft or even their fifth. Comparison doesn't help anyone.
Plus, I'm a big believer in the "two cakes" theory. Say there's a party, and you bring a homemade one-tier cake, and someone else brought a three-tier professional-level cake. The guests aren't going to look at yours and think, "Ugh, what an ugly cake." They're going to think, "Awesome! Two cakes!"
There's room for us all at the table.
On your worst day, you may feel like your story is worthless or like you'll never finish, so why bother trying. It's a dark time.
Here's the thing... Fear is the biggest thing holding you back. Not your alleged lack of talent, not busyness, not the publishing industry. Fear. This road block is your insecurities.
The obstacle you're staring down might feel insurmountable, but it'll fall if you keep whacking at it.
Got an aspect of your story not fitting into place, or a piece of criticism from a critique partner, or a blank page that taunts you? It isn't the end of the world. Keep hackin' away, and that ugly chunk of marble will start to look more like a sculpture.
Nothing worth having comes easily. But it will come. Keep trying, and keep working hard.
Your story deserves to be heard, and you're the only one who can write it in your particular way. There might be other variants out there, but no one has written yours. Believe in yourself and in your story.
Whether it's your first book or your fiftieth, writing will always be hard. But if you don't give up and you keep working hard, you will beat the fear. You will finish your story, and you will grace the world with its existence.
Now go forth and don't give up on your writing!
I believe in you!
For more writerly things, you can follow me on Facebook ("Author Ivy L. James"), Instagram (@authorivyljames), Twitter (@AuthorIvyLJames), and YouTube ("Author Ivy L. James")! I post about writing, writing romance specifically, adulting, my corgi Pippa Finn, and other fun things.
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