I think I’ve completed two stories since April. Two. And this from a guy who has written 25+ stories in 30 days. I’ve started a few more and left unfinished, but only a few. I don’t feel blocked and I still love writing but I have been feeling discouraged. I think.
Tracing it back to when I felt motivated and inspired, it was right up until Norwescon. There I got a quick one-two punch of getting rejected by Clarion West….again and getting told in concrete and irrefutable terms that my Smooth Running novels are too much like Shadowrun novels. Way too much. And since then….nothing. No serious writing.
Now, I’ve gotten a lot of rejections from stories I sent out, but that’s not the reason. I could point the finger at video games and play by email RPGs, which I’ve been playing a lot recently. But honestly, I don’t think any of that is to blame. They’re the outward sign, not the cause. The cause is in myself.
This is part of being a writer, dealing with your own self-sabotage, which is what this is. There is a part of my head that is afraid of rejection and SO afraid of it that it will sabotage any chance of getting fresh rejection. And it’s not just me, I’m sure. A lot of writers out there get self-sabotaged. Every writer out there has to deal with discouragement, even Stephen King (though I suspect his problems aren’t my problems and your problems aren’t mine either, likely). The thing is, if you’re serious about writing, you have to deal with this.
First, you have to figure out what your problem is or where it stems from. I think I know, now. Second, is to take action to fix it, to push past it. And the only cure is, you guessed it, writing. To keep writing. To keep going.
Now you can’t do these steps out of order, trust me, I’ve been flailing around trying to apply the cure without knowing what I was curing. It didn’t work. The stories I did write…well, I don’t know for sure, but they feel flawed to me. And the half-finished stuff speaks for itself. So first, figure out what your problem is. If you’re not sufficiently introspectvive, talk to a friend, preferably one in the creative line themselves. If you don’t have a friend like that, talk to another writer in your critique group. If you don’t know any writers (and you are really looking for excuses here, aren’t you?), then pick the (living) writer you admire most and write them a letter, an email, a tweet. Keep it short and sweet and they might surprise you with a reply. If you can’t do that, then hire someone to listen to you, a psychologist (often they have experience with the ‘publish or perish’ track), a priest, hell hire a hooker and talk to her. Ok, maybe not that last one but still, you CAN figure this stuff out. If you want to bad enough. And I’m assuming you do.
Now, pardon me, but I have to get back to basics and write some freaking stories that I’d enjoy reading. I’ll figure out how to sell them later.