Wednesday, June 6, 2012

It's okay to suck

Every time I start a new book I have to tell myself this again. It becomes like a mantra for the first fifty pages or so. This can suck. You can edit later. Just get words on the page. Because otherwise I'm just frozen. I sit there and stare at my screen. I tell my husband I forgot how to write. I think back to the last book I finished and only remember that it seemed to come easily to me. How come that book was so easy to write? I ask myself. And this book is like ripping out my toenails one at a time?

So this is where I was--In the midst of beating myself up the other day while barely choking out a hundred words on my WIP--when I pulled up an old blog post. I don't remember which blog post now, but I read through the comments section and one of my friends had left something along the lines of: You need to send me more Doll Store chapters (this is what we called my last WIP because it didn't have a title for a long time). And my response was: That book is being bad. It's in a serious time out.

I stared at that comment for a long time. Because much like a year after visiting Disneyland, where you only remember the fun and you don't remember the tantrums and breakdowns, I only remembered my last book being simple to write. It seemed to come out already formed. Or so I thought. But apparently I have a horrible memory because this comment, written by me, would say otherwise. It implied that my perfect adult book was actually a difficult teenager. Huh. Weird. But it helped. I told my husband, after reading this comment and having it help me so much, that I should keep a book-writing journal for each of my books. So that later, when I'm whining about my newest WIP, I can look back and see that every book gives me difficulties.

So here, in the first 50 pages of my newest book, I tell myself: It's okay to suck.

18 comments:

  1. This always happens to me in the middle of a new book. I hit the sand, and my wheels start spinning. Seems like no matter how hard I step on the gas, I can't get the traction I need. And then something happens (some magical, mysterious thing--never have figured out what) and I start moving forward again.

    I KNOW this about myself--it's obviously part of my process--and yet I panic every time.

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    1. I know, isn't it funny how we have to relearn our quirks every time. :)

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  2. It really is okay to suck. :) I have on my blog what I call my Selkie Book Updates (for my newest WIP), just little posts giving my word count and where I'm at in the writing and how I'm feeling about it all, plus something fun about my research. I have 3 so far, and I love it because I know at any time I can go back and look at where I was and how I was feeling with the book, plus I can track how long it took me.

    Hope you can past the icky-suck feeling and keep writing words!

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    1. Thant's smart, Michelle. Keeping your updates on your blog. I like it.

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  3. I feel like maybe that comment was from me. Either that or I read the comment and your response, because I remember that. Anyway, yes...it's totally okay to suck. I don't think you spend most of your first draft feeling that way, so it might be harder for you when you do. But everyone feels it at some point in the writing process, and we all have to get past it. Good luck!

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    1. That comment *was* from you! See, you help me even when you don't know it. :)

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  4. Ah! This is exactly where I am. Exactly. I just started a new book, went back and saw how much it sucked and froze on the spot because maybe it was too hard. But I love this story and there are some good ideas floating around in my head. Thanks for the reminder that I need to keep going no matter the suckiness. I mean, it took me a year to finish my last one. Obviously I don't write perfect stories the first time. (or the second, third...)

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    1. I'm glad we can feel sucky together! :) Let us march forward in our sucktitude! Keep writing and I will too. Must write. Will write......

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  5. Sometimes it's hard to listen to yourself. I keep trying to tell myself that, but it doesn't seem to be working. Hopefully I can get over this hump. I like your idea of a book journal.

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    1. I know, right? It is hard to listen to ourselves. But we must. :)

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  6. I'm revising and I'm in the mode of "This sucks no one will want to read it." It's weird because it is a stronger book (I cut and added), but I still think this way. But yes...Kasie it is a-okay to suck sometimes :)

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    1. That is *exactly* the mantra I have going in my head--no on will want to read this. It's the worst, isn't it? I just need to get over it. And I'm sure your book is stronger. So keep writing and I will too. :)

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  7. Ha, I blogged pretty much the same thing on Sunday. I was discouraged that my WIP was beginning to be just too much a mess to fix because I remembered Brevity being fairly easy to write. Then I looked back at old emails and early versions of that book and realized the truth.

    So I'm glad you're back on track and allowing yourself to suck. (As if you ever do.) :-)

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    1. Oh, Linda, I do suck. A lot. :) But that's what editing is for. And yes, I remember you feeling that way at times with Brevity and look how beautifully it turned out. So I'll let you be my inspiration. :)

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  8. I don't like the sucking part, either. I just want the words to drip from my fingers like golden ink onto my page and not have to be changed later. I like your journal idea. Maybe I'll steal it.

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    1. Ooooh, golden ink. Yes, will you work on that and teach me? I like this idea as well. You can steal the dumb journal idea if I can steal the cool golden ink idea. :)

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  9. I'm so glad I came across this post because lately I feel like everything I write sucks, lol. And I keep telling myself to just keep writing and ignore the previous suckiness so that I can just get the words down on the page.

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