We all get there at some point. We stare at the computer screen and hate the words on there. It’s horrible. Did we really write this trash? And how can characters on a page with no brain being controlled by us, the writer, suddenly seize control and throw everything into chaos? Seriously?
We used to love it, this story. The setting, the characters (well sometimes), the theme. The passion behind it used to drive us to our desks, eager to continue the story.
What went wrong?
Courage dear heart. You are not alone. Authors such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, A. A. Milne, and Ian Fleming, hated their work. Jane Austen was so depressed that she didn’t write for three years.
So, what can we do when we’ve come to hate the story on our hearts?
1. Take a Break
You are only human. You can only do so much. Take a step back. It’s okay. You’re not a failure when you do so. Take a break for a few days or a week and recharge. Even God rested on the seventh day. Read that new book everyone’s talking about or play a game with siblings. It’s fall, and the trees are in color, and the weather is cool. Use this to your advantage and take a walk to clear your mind.
You’ll come back from break feeling rejuvenated, refreshed, and rested, ready to dive back into your story again. And often, you may come back able to see things more clearly.
2. Learn to Not Expect Perfection
Everyone’s first draft has problems. Know that the first draft of your WIP (writing in progress) will have mistakes. There’s no getting around it. My current WIP lacks conflict from one character, and another character mentioned in chapter four is never mentioned again. Whoops. I’ve made notes to correct this in the editing stage, but the farther along in my novel I get, I realize that my previous work has holes that need to be filled, patches that need to be fixed.
My foundation is weak, but that’s okay. The first draft is you getting the story from your heart onto the page, spilling it out in all its messiness. Don’t worry about it being perfect. No one else is going to see it but you. Think of it as you telling yourself the story first, then the editing stage as you getting your facts straight.
3. Try Something New
Sometimes when I’m stuck, I’ve found writing in a journal helps me get past my rough patch. There’s just something about returning to the basics of holding a pen in my hand and writing on paper that helps clear my mind. If you type on your computer, try taking a break from the screen for while and write in a journal.
Or if you are a writer who writes in a notebook, try writing on the computer for a while. Feeling something new like computer keys might help spark creativity.
4. Write with God
Philippians 1:6 says, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
God gave you this story and only you can write it, no one else. Isn’t that kind of amazing? He will help you see it to completion – He’s not going to abandon you. God’s the Maker of creativity – He created this world in all its breath-taking beauty. When you feel dried up and empty, enter into your writing with God and ask him to fill you.
Question: What do you do when you hate your story? Let me know in the comments.