Started working on a writing prompt tonight.
WHAT IS THAT FOX DID U RLY?
Yeah. Yeah I did.
(I’m already embarrassed!)
Am I the only one who goes through this?
Write something, usually at night. Sometimes fueled by too much coffee, occasionally fueled by a bit too much wine. Feel like it’s brilliant, feel SO GREAT ABOUT EVERYTHING.
Then the next morning, I wake up, excited to read that masterpiece from the night before… Pour my coffee, put on some tunes, pop open Microsoft Word, and…
And that crushing emotion is usually followed by a desire to just slip silently away, applaud myself for not showing this to anyone before I came to my senses, and pretend I’m not actually trying to be a writer.
But why does this happen? How can I feel confident and excited and like I’m this lightning bolt of creative energy one night, and then just a few hours later feel like my kind-of-obsessive series of Pittsburgh Pirates poems from 1991 was significantly better than what I’ve just written?
True life, I have been crafting a letter to Richard Simmons because I know for sure he will write back and tell me he believes in me and he will help me believe in myself and then I can thank him in the liner notes of my first ultra-successful novel and then we will have wine time together in Beverly Hills every afternoon.
Except that I write like two sentences, I get as far as, “Dear Richard, I am a longtime fan and I think I need your help. I am very sad and have stopped believing in myself and I need you to believe in me please” and then I go really?? Really??
(Bear is kind of wise sometimes.)
So anyway. How do I get over all this? How do I come to terms with the fact that although sometimes, I will write great stuff, sometimes, I will write terrible stuff, and that doesn’t mean that I’m a terrible writer and a failure at life and incapable of writing anything good ever again?
Stephen Kellogg told this really terrific anecdote at his show in Pittsburgh last November that his wife said to him once, “You’re an asshole.” And he said, “I’m an asshole?” and she replied, “Well, no, but you’re BEING an asshole.”
It’s semantics, sure, but it’s important semantics.
If I write something that isn’t my best, does it mean I’m a bad writer? No. It means I’ve written a bad thing, maybe, but it doesn’t instantly make me a ‘bad writer.’
I think that’s what’s behind this. I have this fear of being a bad writer. This fear paralyzes me. I’m so afraid of being a bad writer that I’ve convinced myself that nothing I write is ever good enough. Because I’m a bad writer. It clouds my judgment on everything. The second I write something that I’m not happy with, the ‘you’re a bad writer’ track starts playing in my brain.
So now, even when I write something that I think is good, the morning after, I wake up and remember that I’m a bad writer. And I know that what I’ve written is foolish and embarrassing and how could I possibly have thought this was funny or clever or interesting.
You’re not an asshole, you’re BEING an asshole. You’re not a bad writer, you’re just going through it right now.
Because it isn’t what you are.
It’s what’s happening at the moment.
And it might not even be happening for real. It might only be happening in your brain.
Because you’re crazy.
(Good crazy though, mostly; even Richard Simmons would agree to that.)
But if it’s just right now, it’s going to be better. You’re being an asshole, but you won’t be one forever. You feel like you’re a bad writer, but you won’t feel this way forever. Because you aren’t.
(The sheer amount of fragmented sentences and unnecessary capitalization in this post would beg otherwise, but, well… blog! Blog! the writer-explanation-equivalent of, Pirate!)
It’s going to get better.
Does anyone else ever go through this? How do you deal? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!