This post is for any writer who thinks he or she sucks. Unpublished, self-published, mid-list published, mega-successfully published, there’s something we all have in common: Suck Days.
A friend of mine who’s trying NaNoWriMo told me the biggest obstacle she has right now is self-doubt and how it must be nice for me to be beyond that.
*cue maniacal laughter*
Here’s my writing history.
1 – unpublished
2 – never to be seen
3 – agented, but never sold
4 – Clarity
5 – Perception
6 – Sleuth or Dare #1
7 – Sleuth or Dare #2
8 – Sleuth or Dare #3
9 – The Dead and Buried
10 – secret
11 – my current work-in-progress
Eleven books. Do you know what they all have in common? While writing each one of them, I had days where I thought I WAS THE WORST WRITER IN THE WORLD AND I SHOULD JUST QUIT AND HIDE MY SUCKY WRITER HEAD IN SHAME.
It never goes away. Actually, I’m having one of these days today.
Granted, not every day is a Suck Day. Some days are Rainbows of Glitter Days when you’re high on writer euphoria. Most days are somewhere in between. And the causes run the gamut.
Suck Day Causes:
- I didn’t write.
- I didn’t write enough.
- The scene I wrote didn’t work.
- I’m stuck and don’t know what comes next.
- I got a bad review sent to me and chose to read it. (I don’t go searching for these.)
- Something disappointing happened on the publishing end. (Bad sales, book rejected, got a cover you don’t like, etc.)
- The jealousy monster decided to come out and play. (Why is that author getting all the marketing/conferences/love/shiny things.)
Rainbows of Glitter Days:
- I wrote a lot and feel like the book’s working, and I know what comes next.
- I got a fan letter/email that really touched me.
- I got a great review. (I don’t go searching, but I’m happy when someone sends me these.)
- Something good happened on the publishing end. (Exciting marketing news, got a cover you love, happy-making email from your editor, etc.)
- The jealousy monster stayed in the closet where he belongs.
Notice that many of these reasons are shared. Somewhere out there, a first-time writer and a multi-published NYT bestseller are both having Suck Days because they hate the scene they just wrote and they know they have to delete it and start over. Hundreds of writers are having Suck Days. Right now. Apart, but together. It’s something we have in common. Published and unpublished. Adult literary, middle grade sci-fi, erotica, picture books. Every writer I know is her own worst critic.
But here’s the thing. I’m not going to talk you out of it. I’m going to suggest that maybe thinking we suck is not such a bad thing. Maybe that inner voice that tells us YOU ARE THE WORST is what drives us to make each project better than the last. To fix that scene. To work harder. To improve.
So here’s to the people who suck.
I’m one of them. Join the club.
In the comments:
What do you think?
Do you have more causes for Suck Days and Rainbows of Glitter Days?
What do you do to get out of a Suck Day funk?