One thing I’ve been learning over the last few years since I started writing — and what continues to strike me each time it occurs — is that creating is a ridiculously emotional experience.
You start out with an idea, and feel on top of the world. It’s the greatest idea ever. You’re super excited and can’t wait to see it come to life.
Then you hit the snags: the plot holes that won’t fill, the characters who won’t cooperate, the target word count that remains elusive, the research that returns a fact that makes your entire story unravel, etc. Then frustration sets in. This is the worst idea ever. Why are you even doing this? You must be out of your mind.
Suddenly, you find a solution. Aha! The pieces fall into place: changing a setting sparks the right scenario to fill in a plot hole, adding a bad habit to a character makes him more believable and throws in a subplot, adding or subtracting a minor character radically changes the mystery of the backstory, etc. You’re a genius! You’re excited again! This is going to be a masterpiece and you can’t wait to share it!
Then life gets in the way — work, money, families, relationships, etc. — and you either don’t have time to write, or you’re so plagued by stress that you just can’t focus. That source of happy escapism just isn’t quite enough to pull you away from reality, and when you try to sit down at the computer and type a few pages, nothing comes to you. You try to force it and it makes it worse. You finally just give up and walk away, wondering if you’ll ever see yourself write, “THE END.”
The next day, you wake up, an idea in your head before you even manage to get your stumbling, half-awake self out of bed to shut off the alarm. You head straight to the computer and start typing, and keep typing all day, charging ahead with the end in sight.
And then, it happens. You finish writing the climax, wrap up the little end bits, bring your hero to success, and type those last few words.
Elation! Wondrous, marvelous joy! You’ve done it! Look at what you’ve accomplished! A whole book! Still a rough draft, yes, but a whole book! You’re amazing! You’re ecstatic! You can’t stop smiling, and maybe even laugh out loud at the computer screen.
Two seconds later, you find yourself sitting back with a joyful sigh of relief, and then it hits you:
*stare at the screen, blink dumbly, scratch your chin*
On Monday night, I finished the first draft for the third book in my next series. I wanted to have at least the first three or four books written before I started editing the first book and preparing it for sale. Since it’s an extended fantasy series and I’m doing world building as I go, I wanted to make sure I could plant little pieces in each book that would hint back / forward to other books in the series.
Alright, so this was also an excuse to put off editing. I hate editing. That’s when the writing process really starts to feel like work, rather than fun.
I’ve got three complete rough drafts now, and once I finished the third, I was sorely tempted to right on to writing the fourth, rather than taking a break to go back and edit the first.
So, as I sat there on Monday night, thinking, “Now what?”, I couldn’t decide which way to go: on to the fourth, or back to the first?
I finally shut off the computer, post-book depression already settling in.
I went to bed, and couldn’t fall asleep because ideas for Book 4 kept bouncing around in my head, but then I started noticing so many elements missing that I knew I couldn’t dive right into it quite yet. I had some more outlining to do.
The next day, post-book depression hit even harder, and since then I’ve just been staring at my computer and my notebooks, and not adding a single thing to them.
This will probably last a few days, as it normally does, and then I’ll be back in the saddle, writing or editing, and back on the upswing of the coaster, excited about what’s coming up next.
To be followed, of course, by the inevitable frustrations.
“Gods, why am I doing this? What was I thinking? Write a whole book? A whole bloody book? I must be mad! I can’t do this! It’ll be awful. I’ll sound stupid. No one will like it!”
Which — also of course — will be followed by, “Gods, this is amazing! I love it! I have to share it! It’s brilliant! It’s wonderful! Look at what I’ve done!”
Up and down, up and down, every single time. I wonder if this is the kind of thing to which one ever gets used.