It’s not hard to see when a writer’s heart isn’t in their work, much in the same way that it’s remarkably easy to see when a writer has given their work everything they have and then some. What most people don’t see – though this is slowly changing with writers who show their work being made in real time, but that’s a story for another time – is the process by which writers create their work. During that time, many things can (and likely will) go wrong. Yet, many things can also go very, very right.
For this article, I’ll be sharing some of the good, bad, and ugly truths regarding writing.
Let’s start off on a positive note and go downhill from there. Writing can be a very freeing experience, as it’s a chance for a writer to express themselves and their feelings, or lend their voice to a piece that’s meant to be informative or entertaining. Whether a writer is writing for personal reasons, school assignments, or business projects, there will always be a little piece of every writer present in their work.
When The Writing Flows
You’re an unstoppable force of writing nature. Your hands and fingers haven’t stopped moving for more than a moment because the words are just pouring out of your mind and straight onto the screen or paper. You didn’t even know you could write or type this fast, but now that you’ve seen yourself do it you think you’ll never go back to how slowly you used to write before. It feels great getting out the thoughts and ideas as fast as you can think them, and you’re happily getting drunk off of the experience because you feel safe in your assumption that this is your life now.
When The Words Are Perfect
Did I mention that everything you’ve managed to seamlessly write or type is literary gold? Not a single word out of place, and any minor mistakes you made were quickly taken care of with spellcheck. You finish up the project you’re working on and look it over, noting with glee that it’s basically already perfect. The words are all where they should be, and you can only describe the piece as being undeniably yours. It’s perfection at its finest.
When The Ideas Come In A Timely Manner
Did you ever used to wait for an idea to strike before you dove into your work? No really, did you? The ideas are coming to you so fast and clearly that you can barely remember a time when you ever had to scramble to find the best way to convey your thoughts and emotions in your writing. The waterfall of activity you’re experiencing is only made possible by the fact that the planets have aligned to open your mind (or some such thing), and by doing so everything you’ve been thinking is golden and useable. No thoughts have gone to waste, and there are no holes in your ideas to fill it later – it’s all there, it’s all perfect, and it’s all yours.
When You Have Confidence In Your Work
The writing is flowing, the words are perfect, and you know exactly what direction your writing is heading in. It’s no surprise that you’re beaming with confidence at such amazing work. Surely the public will love every gorgeous syllable of it and sing your praises for years to come. Perhaps J.K. and Mr. Martin will be calling you very soon to ask if you can collaborate on a future work. You’re already staring dreamily at your shelf during your breaks and wondering what kind of physical writing awards your work will bring in the near future.
Next up, the section where you feel like things might not be going as smoothly as they could be. Maybe you’re feeling pressure to write better quality, release your work faster, or turn in your writing before certain deadlines. It’s not impossible, but during the process you start to feel like you’re running through quicksand; stopping for even a moment will mean that you’ll sink down into an unavoidable pit and all progress will be halted. For now, you’re still moving. No matter how slowly the work is going, you’re still moving.
When The Writing Is Slowing Down
Okay, no need to panic. Sure, you’re not pouring out waterfalls of words at the moment, but things are still moving along. You might find yourself taking a few more breaks or finding new excuses to leave your writing every now and again, but the words are still coming in at a steady rate. It’s possible at this point that you’re trying to calculate when exactly you’ll be done, and although it won’t be as soon as you hoped, it won’t take too awful long to get through it. Hopefully.
When The Words Need Work
Your backspace button or eraser are coming into play more often. You find yourself second-guessing the use of a word, and re-reading what little you’ve completed so far isn’t looking so great. There are better ways to word what you want to say, but it’s taking up precious time to come up with them. If you’re watching your word count, you’re starting to question if you’ll ever meet the requirement when all you seem to do is delete and shorten your work.
When The Ideas Come At Bad Times
You take a step back because it’s just not going well. You decide to take care of other things that need your attention, like the dishes, laundry, pets, family, friends, or any other distractions from writing that life can conveniently offer you. Yet, right when you’re finally enjoying yourself and trying to forget about how difficult it was for you when you were trying to come up with an idea or concept to progress your writing – BAM! The idea’s popped into your head! It’s waiting to be written! It’s begging to used! It’s too bad you’ve got to get through wet hands, being away from your pen or keyboard, entertaining guests, driving, or laying down in your bed half-asleep before you can work with the newfound (and quickly fleeting) ideas.
When Your Confidence Begins to Wane
So maybe only 75% of the people who read your work are going to like it. That’s still more than half, right? Some people just don’t know good writing when they see it. You’ve produced great stuff before in your life – and even if you haven’t, you know that you’ve definitely got the potential. Some people are just really critical, and you definitely can’t please them all. Just because you’ve gotten a few harsh criticisms doesn’t mean your work is only worthy of seeing the bottom of a trash can… right?
This is it. The thing they’ve been telling you about. Maybe you’ve experienced it before, and as such just knowing that you’re in it again makes you panic and break out in a sweat. Maybe it’s your first time, and you’re afraid of this new unknown feeling that makes you question why you ever began writing in the first place. Having prior experience doesn’t make a person any less terrified of when they come across a writer’s worst fear:
When The Writing Stops
You haven’t written or typed a word for a really, really, really, really long time. When was the last time you put your fingers on a keyboard (or pen on paper) and contributed to that piece you were working on so happily before? When did you run out of steam? Why did you stop writing? There’s a pit in your stomach. You know that if you would just write something that it would go away, but you can’t. The words won’t come.
When The Words Are Wrong
You’re looking back on what you wrote before to try and kickstart your writing again. Only now that you’ve taken a glimpse at your past work do you realize that it’s not what you remember. The words don’t flow together, you can’t think of better replacements, and it just sounds so wrong when you read it again. You can’t even explain why or how you know it’s not right, and even if you could you still don’t have a way to fix it. You start to hope that once you pick back up where you left off that you’ll eventually be able to go back and make better changes.
When You Have No Ideas
It doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing; your head is an endless void where ideas go to disappear or die. Wait, was that an idea you just had relevant to what you were writing that could spark the flame that ignites your creative passions once again?! Nope. Just a random thought that has no connection whatsoever to your work. You’re grasping at straws – or rather, you’re grasping at loose fragments of imaginative thoughts within your mind and hoping to milk a sentence or two of inspiration from them. You’re out of creative juice, out of patience, and out of ideas.
When You Lose Your Confidence
Maybe you’ll never finish it. Maybe this will be the thing that you look back on years from now and think, “What if I had just pushed up my sleeves and worked on it until things got good again?”. Maybe you won’t get paid, won’t get the grade, won’t get published, or won’t have that amazing feeling that comes when you complete a piece of writing. You’re at your lowest point, and the only thing that you can do is sit back and wonder where all of your creativity and imagination went. Some of us sit around wondering for longer than we should, and others will spend the rest of their lives wondering. It makes no sense to keep trying to write anyway if nothing will ever come of it. What’s the point…
If you made your way down the good, bad, and ugly experiences of writing, you might have felt yourself reliving moments when you’ve been in each of those categories yourself. The highs and lows of writing are not for everyone, and sadly a lot of great writers hit an ugly spot and never recover. Yet, there’s always hope. Time goes on, people change, and writing can come back in the most unexpected ways. Take it from someone who’s gone on regular hiatuses (ranging from a few days to a few years): once a writer, always a writer.
No matter where you’re currently at in your writing journey – the good, the bad, or the ugly – things will change (for better or worse). You might be on a roll now, but that may stop or dwindle at any time. You might be in a slump for a day, a week, a month, or longer, but one day your ideas will come back to life and you’ll start writing again. Writing is an unpredictable beast that can’t be tamed, and those that say they have it tamed might just be better at mustering through the ugly parts faster than others. Whether you’re writing a book, report, article, blog, etc., it’s important to know that life goes on, and so will your writing.
Comment below with your experiences regarding the good, bad, and ugly of writing! Are you stuck in the bad or the ugly? Living it up in the good? Let others know!