A fellow writer recently posted this illustration on Facebook, and it is a perfect summary of my writing process.
As you can see, the initial excitement and optimism quickly give way to fear, frustration, and finally hatred. Frankly, by the time I’ve finished a manuscript, it’s a miracle I haven’t thrown my laptop out the window.
When I was in the midst of writing THE GIRLS’ GUIDE TO LOVE AND SUPPER CLUBS, I experienced this cycle with the terror of a first-time author. I figured that if I ever actually got published, going through the process of writing and revising would stamp out all of the self doubt and second guessing. Selling my book would free me from the circle of woe.
And then I started my second book, and within a few weeks I found myself at the “Oh God. I hate it, I’m stuck, I shouldn’t have written this in the first place” stage. How was this possible? Wasn’t I supposed to skip over all of that stuff the second time around?
Somewhere around that time, I chatted with my sister-in-law, a successful author who has published many books in the UK. When I told her how I was feeling about my latest work in progress, she nodded knowingly and gave me some advice I’ve never forgotten: “Trust the process.”
In my case, “the process” tends to involve a lot of dead ends and detours, a lot of nail biting and second guessing (not to mention a few metric tons of ice cream). But it also involves revisions and input from an editor and a host of other steps that eventually turn my manuscript into an actual book. The self-loathing, the desire to set fire to my draft — these emotions are all part of my process.
Knowing I’ll always fear my story isn’t working doesn’t make the process any easier. At the back of my mind, I always think, “Maybe this time I WON’T make it work.” But when those thoughts surface, I remind myself that this happens every time — every. single. time. — and somehow, by embracing the fear, I have learned to trust myself as a writer.
What about you? Does the above graphic strike a chord?