Today I decided to talk about hate. Now, this article is not about those frustrating haters we meet in our lives as writers, who just pour their steaming vitriol all over us and our work. We can cover that festering pit of hell another time.
This is about the worst hater. This is about dealing with those insidious moments when YOU hate your work.
Are you really a hater?
Maybe you’re reading this, scoffing to yourself (because who doesn’t like a good scoff) that you have never and could never hate your awesome, world-changing writing.
Well, to that I say, Buckle up Buttercup because eventually you will plunge head-first into the dark valley of soul-ripping hatred, for both your work and yourself for WRITING that work.
It’s okay though. We all fall into that valley. It is dripping with the bitter tears of all those writers before you. Who wallowed and cowered and raged against their work.
I would like to say we all fall into the dark valley once… but some of us drift back to it on our travels.
The Dark Valley
So, how do you avoid that crippling sensation of self-loathing and agonising doubt and the belief that you will never write anything worth reading and can never be a true writer?
The truth is, you can’t avoid it – if that dark valley is in your path, you will fall into it. The trick is to acknowledge what it is – a temporary blip on your writing horizon. You weather it. You survive it and keep going.
My well-worn path
Easier said than done. I’ve been writing for a few decades (wow that makes me sound old!) and I’ve visited the dark valley more times than I would like to admit. In fact this article was inspired because over the weekend I decided to take another belly-flop into its murky depths.
However it is familiar to me now and while I spit and curse and threaten to put my novel notes through my new cross-cut shredder… I don’t (because that would be fucking dumb!)
There is no miracle cure for feeling that your writing is shit. It is part of the rich tapestry that makes up the artistic temperament. We are gifted with the desire and ability to tell stories, we are given the passion and thirst to chase those stories and become better in the telling.
Like every good character, those gifts come at a price…and one of those prices (because trust me there is more than one!) is that we suffer sometimes.
You will always be your worst critic, your worst hater. No one can say anything worse about your writing than what you feel when deep inside the dark valley. All those insipid thoughts that tell you how rubbish you are.
Deal with it
But my advice? Suck it up.
You want to be a writer? Then you just got to learn to deal with it. Sit in that dark grief hole and hate your work if you need… but not for too long. Then give yourself a shake, step away from your writing and do something else. Eventually you will be triggered to write again and it will feel normal. Never takes as long as you think it will.
Tips – because everyone likes tips, right?
- DO NOT go near a shredder when in the dark valley
- DO NOT delete any of your work (no matter how shit you think it is) If it’s stressing you out, move it into another folder on your computer.
- DO NOT go looking for encouragement from other people (sounds like it would work but all it takes is one dickhead saying the wrong thing)
- DO NOT listen to the crap you think about your writing and your work on any deep level
- DO NOT think this makes you a bad writer or that you’re the only one who is going through this
A writer has enough critics in the world. Everyone wants to review things these days, giving it their stamp of approval or their angry opinion. Everything is up for review – whether you ask for it or not.
Don’t listen to yourself when you are in the worst possible mood. Ride the mood out and get on with being a writer.
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Thanks for your patience last week and your kind comments. I am feeling better now, just a little lingering tiredness.
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