Setting out to write a book often comes with a surge of energy and inspiration. The words flow and the ideas emerge.
Maybe you’re writing a nonfiction book to help expand your platform or share a new tool with the world. Maybe you’re penning the next bestselling mystery series.
No matter the writing project, things generally flow well in the early stages.
The initial phase — the honeymoon phase — brings all the possibilities. You imagine all the good things that can happen once the book is on the shelves. You find some great reference material, cool writing software, and you can envision a hugely positive outcome.
All that remains are a few minor points like
- actually writing the thing
No matter. Innumerable books are being published and self-published all the time. How hard could it be? So you plod forward.
You write, you mull things over, you write some more.
Gradually, imperceptibly, the inspiration wanes.
You’re in denial about it.
It’s only writing, it’s not that hard. I can totally do this.
You press on. More and more you find yourself in a bipolar pattern. The highs bring inspiration. The lows bring utter devastation.
At some point, things turn south.
You look back through what you have written… and can’t really find anything worthwhile.
Not only do you doubt the quality of your work, but you doubt the original impulse.
Maybe it was all a bad idea, just a pipe dream and now it’s gone.
Maybe you’re just not cut out to be an author.
Yet, in the background of your psyche, something is quietly nagging you…
In your writing, there is something good and true that should be honored.
You just can’t see it right now.
You need help seeing it.
Strategic outside help in this moment can be pivotal.
It does not mean that the project isn’t worthwhile simply because you are struggling with it. It’s OK to have doubts. Doubts are just doubts. They can come and go. Sometimes they bring some insight, but it’s hard to see through a haze of doubt into the truth of the work-in-progress.
There have been ample times in my life when I was only able to push through because I had help.
Without outside help, my favorite books would have never seen the light of day.
Years back, I drafted a novel then read back through and couldn’t make sense of it.
I couldn’t connect the larger plot arcs. I couldn’t see how everything wanted to stick together. It all seemed like a big tangle with occasional funny bits.
A friend read it, gave me notes, and totally changed my mind about it. So I shared the book with others and got tons of positive feedback.
Because I was willing to open up to someone else, they were able to help me see what I had on my hands.
If you have gone from the honeymooon phase where everything seems possible to a phase where you are ready to abandon the project, reach out to me.
I see it happen all too often:
Inspiration –> Honeymoon Bliss –> Depressing Mess –> Abandonment
Creating something brings intense highs and lows. It can feel very bipolar, and in today’s isolated society, we are more prone to getting stuck — and staying stuck — than ever before.
Do you need someone to help you see clearly amidst the mood swings of creation?
One especially helpful strategy is to not identify with the lows. They are a natural part of the cycle. Depression and doubt don’t make you who you are.
The problem is that the dips can seem especially persuasive. It seems different this time.
Some specific dips writers face:
- block — not being able to write anything
- self-fulfilling negative loops — overwhelmed with self-criticism, you are only able to write lousy material
- distraction — suddenly you find all sorts of very good reasons why you just can’t find the time to write anymore
- losing the plot — you continue writing, but it seems to be about a different book or story now
- beginning a new project — rather than face your fear of finishing an imperfect project, you begin a new one again and again
- starting over — you feel insecure about your writing, unable to make forward progress. You keep changing the way it begins.
- forcing it — you’ve lost heart, but can’t admit it. You insist on powering through to finish it rather than taking space to feel back into what you love about your writing
As a writing mentor, I can help address these factors.
Ironically, many writers are unwilling or feel unable to reach out for help when they most need it. That’s why I’m writing this article — I want to speak to that.
Years back, when I lived at my off-grid property, there were days that went by when I had no personal contact with anyone else. No phone time, no chatting. I experienced weeks without much physical interaction. That was an extreme case in some ways but the strange thing is that many people these days can relate. You can easily live in New York City and go months without leaving your apartment.
We live in an isolating world. This is especially true in America.
I mean, you could ask yourself: When was the last time someone just dropped by your house?
Each year the trend continues towards greater isolation and smaller circles of intimate friends. Interestingly, the trend for whether we feel lonely is not increasing. The reason (I would say culprit) here is largely social media.
It’s a question for self-reflection: What are the real effects of having less social interaction with others?
Of having a large corporation in between you and anyone else in the world, involved in all your social interactions?
What is the effect of constant advertisement on our creative ability and our self identity?
We are unintentionally starting to see people as numbers rather than as a living conscious presences.
Because of the isolation, we are all more at risk of losing perspective. Without outside help, we suffer from a lack of positive reflection that can keep us on track, aligned with a sense of fullness and clarity and spontaneity.
The bottom line: writing a book can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be too hard. It is doable, especially with help.