I am having a major problem completing my novel.
I blame blogging and Jasinda Wilder.
Let’s tackle blogging first. Some days, I really struggle to write anything worth posting. It’s hard work. It’s not fun. And when it’s finished, I usually don’t like it. On those days, it’s not that there’s a problem with the actual writing itself; grammatically speaking, it’s fine.
It’s just . . . cold. Flat. Lifeless. A well-written Wikipedia entry.
But then I have the days when everything flows. I sit at the computer and zap! I’m just along for the ride. It doesn’t feel like work at all. It feels like play. It’s fun. My stories and essays write themselves, just borrowing my fingers on the keyboard to give them life.
I can feel my face flush with the exhilaration of knowing that I am creating something good. I am writing things that I will later look at with awe and ask, “Did I really write that?”
Blogging has taught me that, while writing is a business that requires hard work and planning, it’s also something I don’t ever want to give up again. And that some of my very best work is the stuff that comes out when I’m enjoying myself, not when I’m trying so hard. And that lesson has made me doubt the work I have done so far on my own novel.
My novel isn’t fun. I’ve spent two years fighting with it, and it’s still not finished. I’ve started to hate my main characters. Part of me wants to put the whole damn thing away for a few months and take a break so I can write something fun, but the logical part of me knows I will never come back to it if I do. I know that follow-through is not my strong suit, and that I tend to quit projects because of self-doubt and fear.
Besides, an agent wants to see it. I can’t blow this opportunity!
Then there’s Jasinda Wilder. She and her husband were facing foreclosure when they decided to write an erotic romance novel a la Fifty Shades of Grey. In less than thirty days, she did her market research, churned out and self-published Big Girls Do it Better, and sold more than 500 copies in the first day. Since then, she has published several more, and according to CBS News, she now averages over $100,000 in sales per month.
I want to hate her. I want to dismiss her as a talentless hack. But I’ve read her books, and they’re pretty good. Not always to my taste; I’m really not a fan of erotica, and my favorite romances tend to be the more chaste ones. But she writes very well, and I have to say that she deserves the success she has found.
She also seems to be a very nice, down-to Earth person.
If she can knock out book after book after book faster than the speed of light while I do everything but pour my blood on the page, then maybe I’m not meant to be a writer. Should it really be this hard?
If it’s this hard, maybe it’s just not meant to be.
So I am asking my fellow writers for advice. What do you do when self-doubt and frustration attack? How do you keep from being jealous of writers like Jasinda Wilder, for whom it all seems to be so easy?
How do you know when it’s time to give up on a project or just keep pushing to break through the tough spots on your current one?
How do you convince yourself to finish something when it has stopped being fun?