I know how it is. You wake up. Or maybe you’re about to go to bed. Whenever it is, you sit down to write.
You know what you want to say, you understand the turns the plot needs to take, and you’ve got a good handle on your characters. But when you actually start to write it feels like things Just. Aren’t. Working.
Your brain feels like sludge, the words dribble onto the screen like thick sewage, and you start to get depressed. You know you’re better than this. You can remember good days, great days even, when the story flowed out like a mighty river, when the only thing that could hold it back was the fact that you couldn’t type fast enough to get it all out.
How do I know all this? Well, the truth is, I’m clinging to the ceiling directly above you at this very moment, looking down on your foolish attempts with my segmented eyes.
Wait, no, I’m sorry. What I meant to say is that I know your pain because I’ve gone through it too.
I’ll be sitting there trying to get the words out, and it’s like pulling teeth. I’m the word-dentist reaching into the mouth of creativity and yanking out sentences with a pair of vice grips. What’s that? Pain killers? You don’t need no stinking pain killers. Man up.
And you know what? That’s okay.
Not every day of writing needs to be fun or easy. Sometimes the flow just won’t happen like you want it to. It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you or your work. It just means that you need to slow down. Take your time. Let your mind have time to get it right.
This is something I’ve been personally coming to terms with more and more lately. I’ve been learning to stop beating myself up when things don’t go exactly as planned.
Because, on the one hand, we all know creativity boils down to a lot of hard work. But in your gung-ho fervor to sling those words, don’t forget that there’s something slightly magical about this whole process.
Maybe you think you’re ready to write, but some part of the back of your brain is telling you there’s something wrong. Maybe you haven’t sorted out the plot as well as you thought. Maybe your sleep deprived brain just doesn’t have the energy it needs.
Whatever. Like I said, it’s okay. Stop being miserable about the fact that you can’t hit a home run and focus on getting to first base.
And let me be perfectly transparent here: this advice isn’t really for you. It’s for me five years ago. It’s something I’ve been learning to deal with ever since I started writing. And after all that time I think I’m finally coming to the point where I can accept the good along with the bad, take the easy days and the hard days as they come.
But maybe you can get something out of it too. I hope so. If not, I’ll refund your money in full, cash, no questions asked.
I’ll hand it down to you from my spot on the ceiling.
P.S. I really dig the title “word dentist.” If I ever make it as a writer, I think that’s what I’m going to put in those little forms where it says “Occupation.”