Writers Despair

We’ve all suffered from writers block at one time or another. It is that point where you can’t find the words or the ideas. Everything you write is rubbish. Everything you have already written is rubbish. In fact, everything is rubbish.

Hopefully you can find a way past this before it gets any worse. However, if like me, you find yourself in that deep dark pit that I call writers despair, fear not – there is hope!

We all talk about writers block openly however writers despair gets little mention. It’s almost a taboo subject. I believe this is because it is the deepest darkest parts of us. The part where we believe ourselves to be unworthy. We consider ourselves utter failures and essentially, we give up. What’s more, we sink into a depressive state. We are no longer fun or interesting. We are misery and pain, trapped within hopelessness. Why would we want expose this vulnerable part of ourselves to anyone?

The past few days, without realizing, I have been on a downward spiral. It started with a question I asked myself about the plot in my latest book. Should I do this, or should I do that. What if I do this, no – I’ll do that, but what if it’s doesn’t make sense??!! Then I wrote about 6k words, which to be quite honest, need deleting.

Gradually I found myself writing less and tweeting more. Basically, I was using social networking as a way to put off writing because I didn’t know what to write. I no longer knew how to write. The plot alluded me. My description (which has always received praise) was crap, my dialogue – abominable, my characters – off the rails.

We writers are fickle little things. The more I wrote, the worse I felt. The less I wrote, the worse I felt. You see the problem here? Whether I wrote or not I felt crappy. I was wallowing in self-pity and suffocating in self-loathing. Not attractive qualities. These are the parts of us that we don’t like to talk about. But we should.

With writers block some people get past it by ‘writing through it’ or finding inspiration. However, what happens when you can’t? When the mere thought of putting pen to paper or fingers to keys makes your skin slick and your heart race. What do we do then?

I’ll tell you what I did. I allowed it to consume me. I became irritable. A delight to be around, I was most certainly not. I felt like crying, then I felt like laughing maniacally, then I felt like destroying everything that I had written because it was only fit for the bin. I sunk into the depths of writers hell. What was I thinking? I was not a writer! No one would want to read this, or anything else I had penned. Forget it; it was just a dream. All of this went through my head.

Seriously, doom and gloom – that was me! So how did I pull myself out of it?

In short – I didn’t.

Other writers did.

This morning I received my MS back from a wonderful Beta reader. She grabbed me under the armpits and hauled my ass out of the chasm of despair. She gave me detailed and constructive feedback, praised my work and advised of any changes she felt necessary. She made me feel like I could write.

Yes, I could write.

Then, later today, I received a tweet. I tweeted last night: “I give up for the night. At the point where I think the whole last chapter is rubbish #writerproblems”

The reply I received today was: “You’re not giving up, you’re taking a break and coming back stronger.”

And there we have it, muddy and bruised, I was out of the pit that I had fallen into.

Neither of these writers knew what I was going through. Both of them just made contact at the right time. They didn’t know because I didn’t tell them or anyone else. I didn’t express my anger or frustrations. Now I know I should have.

We need to talk to each other about this. We need to air our feelings and in turn we need to be willing to listen to others whenever they happen to fall into despair. It is not whining; it is genuine turmoil. We should not feel as though it is a taboo subject because it shouldn’t be. There is an army of writers on Twitter more than willing to drag you from despair, allow them to.

For now, I’m going to take a beat and do some editing. Well, it doesn’t cure itself in a day!

And to @ReadWriteLove28 and @DarrylDonaghue – thank you. I live to write another day.

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18 thoughts on “Writers Despair

    • Thank you 🙂 It is not a nice feeling. It’s amazing really, even though we have been there before and it has passed, when you end up there again you feel like there is no way out. I suppose that’s why it’s called ‘despair’! x

  1. I completely understand this! I’ve been in a writing funk with my novel lately. Short stories I can do, but my book, my baby, I’ve been neglecting because I feel like the worst writer on the planet.

    • It is such a hard rut to clamber out of. I think if I had previous works maybe I could have drawn positively from them but I didn’t. Although my first book is complete, it had yet to be critiqued properly. I am trying really hard to write the second and it just wasn’t happening until my wonderful Beta got back to me. It gave me the lift I needed when I needed it most! You just have to recognize that you are a worthy writer! x

      • Thank you.
        haha So true. I read an excellent book on creativity that says critical thinking can not happen at the same time as creativity. I’m finding it to be completely true. I need to put duct tape over my internal editor’s mouth.

  2. Great post! I wasn’t huge fan of social media before I started writing. Like anything, it’s all down to how it’s used. There’s no getting around the idea that writing is a lonesome game, but being able to reach out and connect with like-minded people going through similar ups and downs is awesome. Fewer cats, more connections I say! 🙂

    • Would this be a bad time to mention I have four cats? LOL!! You are absolutely right. The more connections we make the easier it is to find a way through the rough times:) There are so many lovely writers out there, it has been a pleasure to connect with them.

  3. Every now and then I have a very minor writer’s block, but the worst one actually lasted for years. I tried to write through it, and did write two whole chapters in a novel and a couple of short stories, but nothing ever came out right.

    For me, what pulled me out of it was the need to change my living situation, my depression stemmed more from life than from a lack of writing, but they did feed upon each other. Once I found myself in a better place in life, all of a sudden every ounce of my creativity returned. Since then I’ve written two novels and am working on two more 🙂

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with it! I think you’re write, we need to share these experiences, not just for ourselves but to help give our fellow writers hope 🙂

    • Hi Kataar, thank you for your comment and for being so honest. I understand completely your experiences. My creativity stems from dark moments. As a child I began disappearing off into my head and making things up because it was easier. As an adult I have more control however the refuge inside my head had become a firm part of my personality so I still go there and that’s where I conjure up my stories. When I get into despair, like many, the refuge disappears and it seems as though there is no longer somewhere where I can escape to. Luckily, it never lasts long! 🙂

  4. That point is really scary, when you feel sick to go anywhere near the computer. I think it’s a different feeling altogether to writer’s block – despair and self-doubt are much stronger foes. Sometimes I just hate feeling compelled to do something, I’m just that stubborn! The writing community is amazing and I can’t wait to get more involved. I’m glad you are on the other side 🙂

    • Thank you 🙂 It was horrible, really horrible! I hope it doesn’t happen again but of course – it will. Everyone in the writing community will but luckily not at the same time and we all have the time to tell the other to keep at it 🙂 There are some wonderful people out there for sure!

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