Today, I’m excited to feature my first ever guest post on the blog by a wonderful writer I met on Instagram. Ashton is a copywriter working on her debut novel who always shares encouraging insight into her journey on her feed and has recently launched her own blog, Writefully Yours.
Her post shares some very helpful tips on how to overcome defeat in the writing process, a feeling most (if not all of us) can relate to at some point in our writing journey. Enjoy! — Lindsay
Other posts you may like:
- 5 Ways to Avoid Losing Motivation When Writing a Novel
- One Thing Every Artist Must Do to Overcome Self-Doubt
- How to Win at the Mental Game of Writing
Tips for Overcoming Defeat in the Writing Process
Sometimes the writing process feels a lot like running in circles.
You start a draft, find so much creativity and joy, and write for hours… then the well suddenly dries up. You’re left staring at a molehill that (somehow) quickly became a mountain as you examine the multitude of chapters ahead of you.
When this happens, the writing you once found so much fulfillment and excitement in feels a lot like defeat.
Eventually, you might ditch that draft and move onto a new idea, but the unfinished draft comes to mind every once in a while. Or, if you’re being honest, you remember this perceived “defeat” a lot more than you’d like to admit.
If you find yourself caught in this cycle, the first thing to know is that you’re not alone. All writers have felt like this at one point or another — feeling like this doesn’t disqualify you from writing.
You are still a writer.
Second, it’s important to know that this is only a roadblock. Roadblocks were made to be overcome.
So what should you do when you hit these roadblocks?
Take A Second Look At Your Story
If you’re hitting a wall with your story, it might be because your brain has picked up on a plot hole or other story aspect that isn’t working. Even if you’re not a devoted plotter, it might be worth returning to the storyboard to find out if something isn’t adding up.
It could even be a friction between who your character is in your mind and who they are on paper. Is your character making realistic decisions for who they are, or are they just following the trail you’ve pre-determined for them?
You might also be missing something. If your heart isn’t in your story, evaluate the reasons behind that. Is there another element you could add to make it exciting to you? Is this a story you would want to read? Why or why not? It’s important to continually ask yourself questions.
Looking for story knots and holes that your brain is picking up on, but you haven’t fully registered, might help to unplug the creative well so that the words flow again.
If That Doesn’t Work, Take A Break
I know what you’re thinking. “A break? Isn’t that the same as giving up?”
It’s absolutely not. If anything, that’s a mark of a culture that continually tells us to keep going even if our hearts aren’t in it, because that’s what leads to success.
I’m here to tell you that overworking yourself, especially as a writer and creator, doesn’t lead to success. In fact, it leads to burnout, anxiety, and a higher chance that you’ll give up anyway.
If storyboarding doesn’t work, this may be a signal that you need some time to regroup mentally and creatively. That’s more than okay.
Rest refuels creativity. Overwork equals burnout.
Maybe take up knitting or painting for a week, or trade the hours of writing for reading a good book instead. A break isn’t forever, it’s temporary, and might help generate new ideas for your story that you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.
Remember That Walls Are Normal
This might be frustrating to hear, but walls in the writing process are normal.
Victoria Schwab, one of my favorite authors, has published over fifteen stories (including the Shades of Magic trilogy and her acclaimed Villains duology) and even now, she admits to facing walls in her writing around the 10-20% mark of her novels.
It’s because the story has become less new and intriguing, and more like an old friend. Though you used to want to stay up all night talking and discovering everything about them, it’s been a while and now you just want to sleep. It feels more like work now.
This is normal. Just push through this feeling. Keep chipping at the wall. Push yourself while being aware of your limit to avoid burnout. The wall will come down eventually as the story comes together again.
Don’t Lose Confidence
Remember you are a writer; you are a good writer. Even if you don’t like anything you’ve written, don’t lose your confidence. Imposter syndrome is a real thing and it can hinder your writing progress, but only if you let it.
So don’t let it. Believe in yourself, in your abilities, and in what you want. If you want to finish this book, then you will.
As you write and you hear that little voice of self-doubt in your head, tell it to be quiet. Hone back into your writing. Any mistakes can be fixed with editing and revision later.
All writers encounter walls in their writing process. If anything, facing roadblocks just validates the fact that you are a good writer.
Ashton lives and breathes books and words. She is a corporate content writer by day and a novelist by night. Currently, she is writing a YA fantasy novel based on Celtic mythology and all the things that go bump in the night. Other non-word related hobbies include taco-eating, coffee-drinking, yoga-loving and world-traveling. (Visit her blog, Writefully Yours)