Hitting The Wall

This author calls it Bad Brain Days. I call it hitting the wall. It’s that point in writing your book when you think it sucks, it’s never going to be any good, you’re not any good, you’re just wasting your time, etc., etc.

Writing a book–novel, non-fiction, whatever–is a marathon. You slog away and slog away, a word at a time, a page or two or five a day, and eventually you cross the finish line. But at some point in that process, you hit The Wall, and going any further seems like any unbearable waste of time and effort.

It’s The Wall the separates the experienced novelists from the inexperienced ones. If you’ve actually written an entire novel, you know that you can write an entire novel. You can get through The Wall and finish. The inexperienced novelist doesn’t have that advantage; the wall looks insurmountable. Many novels die there.

There’s no easy fix, no neat trick to learn. It’s just a matter of putting your head down and slogging. Keep putting one word after another, just like an endurance runner keeps putting one foot in front of another, even when it seems like he can’t take one more step, and you’ll get through it. It’s simple. Not easy, but simple.

Don’t look back. Don’t start thinking about how you need to take a different approach, don’t go back and revise chapter one. Keep going. Finish the project. Only when it’s done can you go back and see what really needs to be changed in the second draft. You’ll probably find it’s a lot better than you think.

And once you’ve done, you know that you can do it again, and The Wall won’t seem quite so high the next time.

How do you sit down and write 120,000 words? One word at a time.

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