"What drives you on, can drive you mad." --Garbage, "Stupid Girl"
Thanks to a tweet from Carrie Butler, I found what might be the best article about writing I've ever read. Oddly enough, it's from a psychology website. The whole article is worth reading, but it contains one of those messages that's so simple as to both make perfect sense and seem like something all we writers should have figured out by now:
Work the problem---don't make yourself the problem.
Yeah, I know. It's one of those things that seems so incredibly obvious... if you're not a writer. If realizing this sort of thing was easy, I doubt there would be an IWSG in the first place. We'd accept that writing is, in fact, supposed to be hard, and that so many of the problems we're having are the result of the difficulties that come with trying to create new realities with twenty-six letters and some grammar, not of our own failings. We'd accept this difficulty for what it was, and simply resolve to put in more effort to get better at what we love to do.
If you've been reading this thing for the past two months, you know that's not what I've been doing. And I know I'm not the only one who's been on the wrong end of that bold phrase up there.
Part of the problem is that it's incredibly easy to blame myself for everything that's been going wrong. Writing's a fairly solitary pursuit, so really, who else is there to blame? The answer isn't in blaming someone else, the answer is that there's no need for blame. Writing is hard, it's supposed to be, and working through all the troublesome times (yes, all of them) is the only way to get better.
I've felt better about a lot of things since reading that article. There's this weird sense of relief for me now, like I can look at things differently and accept that the problems I'm having are because of writing as a whole, not because of something I'm doing or not doing. Keeping that in mind makes it easier to sit down and get to work, because I know that if things don't go well, it's just part of the process. I still have to go through the process, but when things get hard, I'll work on that instead of saying I suck at this and wishing I could quit.
It feels like these are all supposed to be things I should have already known, and I do think I'm repeating myself a little with this entry. Maybe I just needed to remind myself, especially after how this year's been so far.
So yeah, between this and the ending of Brandon Sanderson's Calamity, I feel like I've smacked down two of my biggest issues over the course of a week. (No, I'm not saying what happened at the ending of Calamity. I'm not even linking to it, since the description on Amazon has massive spoilers for the first two books. I've linked to the first book in the series, start there.) No way to know if this new feeling will stay with me, but I'll enjoy it while it lasts.
I've been coming up with a lot of good stuff lately, and watching three different stories form over the course of hours and days. Hopefully, one of them will turn out to be one of the books I write this year. The other book for this year is all plotted and ready to go.
Speaking of which, next entry: on letting things sit for a few years.