Writing is hard. No one ever said it was going to be easy. If it was easy, everybody and their mother's brother's dog would be doing it. Like E.B. White once said, “Writing is hard work and bad for the health.”
There are times when I hate writing. I mean, I really, really hate it. There are times when I want to delete everything I've ever written and forget about it all.
Recently, I finished the first draft of my first novel, The Carpenter's Wife. Like most writers, after letting it sit for awhile, when I came back to begin editing, I found that I hated it. First drafts are supposed to be bad, but this was worse than I had expected. It was choppy, it jumped around too much, and overall, it just didn't read well.
After about two weeks of making small edits before moving onto the big ones, my Frustration Meter hit its limit. I could not take anymore. I was so disappointed in myself and so discouraged I had to walk away for awhile. In fact, I still haven't touched it since sometime last month.
Don't do what I did, though. Here are four things to do when you get too frustrated to continue!
1. Take a breather.
It's okay to step back every once and a while, especially if you're in the editing phase. But even if you're just drafting, sometimes taking a break from something that's causing you unnecessary frustration is what's best. This could mean take a break for ten minutes or take a break for ten days. Whatever you think will give you the most time and space to recharge.
2. Start something new.
If you're anything like me, you find sticking to one project at a time is difficult. I've learned to force myself to work on one thing and one thing only. Sure, I use Pinterest to pin the heck out of my growing ideas and I take notes on them like crazy, but I force myself not to put words down on paper until I've finished (or moved on, if need be) from my current project.
Even so, if you're finding that whatever you're working on is frustrating you to no end, choose one of those ideas you've been mulling around and start it. While first drafts aren't easy, they're sometimes the most freeing because you get to do whatever you want in whatever form you want. Try this tip out especially if you're in the editing stage and you're craving a good plain-ole' writing session. I tried this out myself when reaching my limit with The Carpenter's Wife, and I'm loving what I'm working on now even more.
3. Take a nap.
Simple, straight forward, effective.
Taking a nap might seem like a kid's thing, but it's a great way to get rid of frustration. Close your laptop or put down you pen, and throw yourself onto the nearest bed. Sleep it off and get back to work when you wake up. You'll be refreshed and you may even find you dreamt of a way to cure the cause of your frustration.
4. Stop. Yell/groan. Continue.
You might do this already, but, if you don't, venting your frustration is a great tool to get rid of it. Stop writing and yell, curse, groan, kick something, punch a pillow, stamp your foot. Do something to release some of that anger. When you're sufficiently yelled-out, sit back down and continue. Sometimes that little shout or punch to the pillow is all that's needed.
Getting frustrated with your writing comes with the territory. If you're never frustrated, that's probably not a good sign. Just remember: Never let your frustration get the better of you. You are a writer; your story deserves to be told. With practice, hard work, and determination, your novel will get finished and you will have triumphed over the frustration.
Until next time, keep scribbling, friends!
Jessica Wolf is an aspiring author with a sweet-tooth for historical fiction and period dramas. She is currently working on the first draft of her second novel attempt and hopes to one day self-publish. After high-school, she plans on attending college to become an editor. You can read more of her writing at www.simple-scribbles.com.