writer breakdown, no. 5874

I often wonder if writing will ever be fun again.  A hobby instead of a chore.  I get that buzz when I think of a new character, or plot twist, or story in general.

But rarely is it fun.

There.  Is.  So.  Much.  Pressure.

For every sentence I write, there’s a thousand voices telling me it’s the worst piece of shit ever written.  Nagging me to make it better.

Fix it.  Switch it around.  Start it from a different perspective.  Scrap it altogether.  Give up.  Work harder.

When did it get like this?  In college, all I did was write for fun.  There were no scheduled times I had to report to the library. I didn’t have deadlines.  Didn’t care about word counts.  I just wrote and wrote and wrote.  I saw an adventure in my head and I just wrote.  I didn’t worry about voice, and definitely didn’t worry about my audience.

I wrote for myself.  I wrote what I wanted to read.  I wrote whatever popped into my head.

But now I worry about structure.  About plotting.  Imagery.  Metaphor.  Symbolism.  Theme.

I write for a book deal.  I write for publication.  I write for notoriety.  Popularity.  Money.  Fame.

It used to be just me and a notepad and a fun idea I wanted to expand.  And now I have to culturally define a generation while simultaneously being more prolific than a billion other up-and-comers.

I have to be clever, and witty.  But not too clever.  Not overly witty.  Just the right amount of both.

Perfect.

Where once I knew I had it, I now wonder everyday what it is.  The longer I go without readers, the more I wonder why I bother.  It’s way easier to watch a movie or play a video game.  So why?  Why do I beat myself up over setting and dialogue?  Why do I sacrifice my free time on a project that may never amount to anything but a rejection letter?  Isn’t that what happens?  You get thousands and thousands of rejections until one day–a week before you die–you get a shot at publication?

Someone tells me to pay attention to tense.  It’s like the chain came off my bicycle.  Now it’s all I pay attention too.  Stop torturing metaphors.  WHAT IN THE FUCK DOES THAT MEAN?  I lose sleep over that statement.

Writing has been my backbone my entire life.  And now I don’t even know if I’m good at it.  It’s entirely possible I have no idea how to write.  My sentence structure is completely different than anything I’ve read.  There’s literature then there’s whatever the hell it is that I write.

I just read an article about how you should never start a sentence with “There was.”  It’s a sign of shitty writing.  All my sentences start with “There was.”  Now I start my sentences six times before I’m even remotely satisfied.

I’ve wasted 28 years of my life.  The closest thing I have to a skill, to a career, is something I’m no good at.  If I was good at writing, I wouldn’t read books and hate myself afterwards.

I would’ve sold more than 50-something copies of my ebook.  It would have been long enough to be a real book.

It isn’t a real book.  It’s a collection of scenes that would be really good if someone else wrote it.  If I had what it took to string it together cohesively.  To make it interesting.  To make it genius.

Genius.  That is a word never used to describe my writing.  Nothing I’ve ever done is genius.  I’ve been out of college six years.  In that time my sharp writing has dulled into notes and sketches.  Synopses.

I want to write something subtle and yet grand.  All-encompassing.  True to my voice.  But that sounds like all the authors I’ve ever loved.  A close-up, zoomed-in snapshot of the entire Earth.

Impossible.

I break down.  I come back stronger.  I break down.  I come back stronger.

But I never finish a goddamn manuscript.

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2 thoughts on “writer breakdown, no. 5874

  1. Buck up, dude. You’ve got the talent to be great. That’s no guarantee of success, but it means you’ve got a shot. We’re all rooting for ya.

  2. Hey there. We’re strangers but (caveat:) I’m not a weirdo. I’m J. Hicks’s older brother, Joe. We are writers, you and I. I like your blog–especially this post. Really appreciate your honesty. Nice to see that someone else struggles with the whole over- under-confidence paradox, and isn’t afraid to say so. Mostly I wanted to introduce myself and say congrats on your book deal. Here’s wishing you (and your book) all the best this Spring.

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