“Embrace the Suck”: Writing through the doubt

Moira-frustrated-computerI’ve often been told (and it’s advice I’ve passed on, myself) that if you are still long enough, you will hear God (or the Universe, or Fate, etc. etc.) speaking to you. I do believe that. Patience and calm will net you wisdom that you just cannot gleam from frenetic worrying and anxiety.

But there are also times when the Universe (or God, or Fate, etc. etc.) just ups and smacks you on the nose.

Take this morning for instance: I expressed to my husband how frustrated I was that I couldn’t translate the story in my head into coherent words on the paper for my current WIP. I was also second-guessing my finished novel, the one that I already submitted to two writing contests. I was feeling discouraged, to say the least.

And then this quote of the day popped up at the top of my Gmail inbox:

“My dear friend, clear your mind of cant.”― Samuel Johnson

To be perfectly clear, Johnson was not speaking of “can’t”; he was addressing the hypocritical way in which some people speak. (Politicians often cant about family values and fiscal responsibility, but then pass bills that promote neither.)

But as I read it in my head, I changed “cant” to “can’t”, because that advice also works. The more I stress over what I can’t do, the more true that becomes. If I tell myself I can’t do something, then I won’t be able to do it. I need to clear my mind of that awful word, “can’t”. Yes, I can develop a complex personality for my character. Yes, I can create a more vivid setting. Yes, I can figure out how to plug that plot hole.

I think as writers, we all have those moments of doubt, when we believe we can’t produce something worthy of public consumption. We just have to push through it, or to put it in military parlance, “Embrace the Suck”. If making the decision to chase my dream of becoming a published author has taught me anything, it’s taught me that this field is not for the faint of heart. It’s not for those who can’t be honest with themselves, who can’t handle the hard work, who can’t see past that first ugly draft. So just clear your minds of “can’t”, my dear friends, because:

“you can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.”Stephen King

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