I know I’m not alone, fellow writers. Recognize any of these?
1. It’ll never happen.
2. If it was meant to be, it would have happened by now.
3. Look how much farther so-and-so has gotten.
4. He/she writes so much better than I do.
5. I write so much better than he/she does – why are they more successful?
6. I’ll never be famous or get to those awards shows.
7. It’ll never be as I imagined.
8. I’m just going to give up. There’s no point.
9. It’s too late.
10. I’ve lost my voice.
There are those days when the glass is half-empty, where everyone else is doing it right and you are doing it wrong, or at least not good enough. No matter what your creative goal is — first publication or production, or second or tenth, or ramping up your craft and career — there are days you just want to give up.
What is the answer?
The only answer is to keep working. Work harder, smarter, whatever you want to call it. You’ll keep getting better at it.
All I know is: just don’t stop. At least not forever.
Try to counteract the lame self-talk with these additions:
1. It’ll never happen if I stop trying.
2. If it was meant to be it would have happened by now. Who knows what God’s timing is? But I’ve invested myself so much that I won’t stop now.
3. Look how much farther so-and-so has gotten — and look how much farther I’ve come than such-and-such.
4. He/she writes so much better than I do, and I’m going to find out why.
5. I write so much better than he/she does (or so I think) — why are they more successful? Because they did some aspect of this game more persistently — or better — than I did. I’m going to learn what that aspect was and pay more attention to it, let it motivate me.
6. I’ll never be famous or get to those awards shows. So what? I’m doing what I love — writing — no matter where it has gotten me. I never did it for fame or awards — from the start I wrote because I loved it. Even on the days I don’t love it, I still love it. It’s too big a part of who I am for me to stop now.
7. It’ll never be as I imagined. Nothing is as we originally imagine, thank goodness – the person we marry, the friends we have, the life we lead. We’re usually meant for something even better and more meaningful than we imagine — and we can imagine quite a bit! But I’m not going to let my imagination get in the way here.
8. I’m just going to give up. There’s no point. There’s no point in giving up unless I have nothing more to say, but I STILL DO have something important to say! I still have something I’m feeling that won’t let me go until I put it on paper.
9. It’s too late. If it’s never too late to experience joy or contentment, if it’s never too late to impact the world, then it’s not too late to keep writing.
10. I’ve lost my voice. I’ll never lose my voice permanently; I may need to go looking for it again after an ill-advised sprint into the wrong woods; I may need to coax it into the open again; but I’ll never lose it. Unless I stay silent.
It’s usually after a rejection from that producer or publisher, or a loss in that competition or festival, when some other glimmer of hope comes from completely unexpected sources, like it did for me earlier today:
“Hey, I bought your book. Loved it.”
“Hey, saw your trailer — looks amazing!”
And just like that, you keep going.