I know I’ve posted a lot in the last few weeks about how it feels when things get difficult and/or unpleasant. I think it’s also important to emphasize that things aren’t that way all the time, at least not for me.
I’ve been posting a lot of whiny stuff because I’ve been feeling very whiny, but as I’ve alluded to a couple of times, what keeps me going through the rough bits is knowing that there’s light somewhere at the end of that long, long tunnel. And the light isn’t just being finished. It’s the moments when things actually get fun – which is still more than 50% of the time, on balance. Which happened today: I’m working on the Mars novel, and it’s been a really rough time, but a few things have fallen into place, I’ve introduced a new character who I’m really liking, and I’m excited about writing the next few bits. Which is a feeling I’ve been plodding after for a while, trusting that it was up there somewhere.
If anyone ever asked me for advice on writing, I think I could probably boil it down to two crucial points:
A) Be tough enough to keep going even when it’s miserable and all you want to do is quit. Sometimes misery is actually an indication that you need to stop and do something else, and that’s fine. But if you want to complete anything big, if you want to publish, some of it is going to be miserable and some of the time you are going to want to quit. And if you want those things, you can’t do that. However:
B) When it’s miserable and you want to quit, if goals aren’t enough motivation, remember: ideally you’re doing this because you find joy in it. And if you stick with it, you’ll find the joy again. It really will come back. It ducks in and out; like fantastic weather, you can’t make it come. But the weather can’t be awful forever.
It seems a bit trite to condense it down to “the sun’ll come out tomorrow (bet your bottom dollar)”, but it’s also true, and I think keeping it in mind can save good stories that might otherwise be abandoned. Don’t give up on your stories: they need you to tell them. And if you do, they’ll reward you for it.