OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
I hate writing. It's so hard to force myself to sit and type words that are a load of crap anyway.
I love writing. Some days I can get into a flow state and the words come effortlessly onto the page, and they're actually pretty good! I love creating something from just my brain. It's the best life in the world.
My mind is completely empty. I will never have another idea.
Trust emergence. Something will come out of the milieu of this crazy, buzzing world.
Write to live: I need to write something that will sell so I can pay the bills.
Live to write. I'm happy to make money with a day job so I can write the best book I can write, without fear of earning income.
I spend all my time alone, and I think I'm going a little crazy with only my weird mind for company.
I can't get away from the incessant email and social media chatter. I just need some alone time.
I love connecting with my readers and fans. I love reading reviews and getting emails from people who enjoy my books.
I'm afraid of criticism. I hate the one star reviews. They make me want to give up every day. Sometimes I wonder if it would be best if no one even read my work, because then no one would attack me.
I want to win a literary prize and be featured in literary magazines for my beautiful use of language. I don't care about commercial success.
I want to sell millions of books and be read by millions of people. I want the income that reflects that level of commercial success.
I just want to write and not have to worry about all the technical aspects of publishing and marketing.
It's so much easier to write blog posts, do podcasts and hang out on social media, than it is to just write.
I want an agent and a publisher so that I will feel validated as a writer.
Number of books sold and money in my bank account, as well as happy readers, are all the validation I need as a writer.
I want to see my book for sale in the local bookstore so that my family and friends will understand what the hell I do all day.
I want to sell ebooks in 150 countries worldwide because in that way I will reach far more people than my local bookstore ever can.
I want a movie deal and a seven figure advance and global adoration and JK Rowling-like success.
I just want to sit in my writing hut and be quiet and stay away from the crowds, and think and write, and be happy.
I want people to like me and accept me and think I'm a nice person.
I will not self-censor. I will write my dark truth.
I pretty much go through this every day. How about you?
Please do leave a comment below if you understand, or please share what else you feel.
Top image: Flickr Creative Commons roller coaster by Eric Lynch
Yep. I definitely go through just about all of those!
S.R. Booth says
So glad to hear this is normal. ; >)
Wow…I felt like I was reading my own thoughts in written form! I struggle daily with everything you said then I’m accused “not wanting it badly enough because if I did I would enjoy it and not treat it as if I were being tortured or killed” That isn’t it at all and you understand that. Thank you
Joanna Penn says
You can quote Hemingway at yourself – “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed” 🙂
Oh this made me chuckle. It’s so spot on the mark!
You read my mind!! 🙂
I think every writer goes through this. I find sometimes I just have to push through, or other times walk away for a little bit. I hired my current editor because I was having a lot of “walking away” days and realized I needed a fresh set of eyes to focus on what I was struggling with.
Making money with my writing is not my priority. Of course, I want to break even on my investments. The biggest reason I want to publish the traditional route is to get my story out there to educate and support others. (It is a memoir about adopting two girls through the foster care system after helping their drug-addicted mother, a stranger, in childbirth. My FB page is http://www.facebook/borninmyheart and my blog is http://www.bittersweetadventures.com.) I also want to publish the traditional route because there is a better chance of having my story carried in libraries, which I love because they are accessible to everyone.
My two cents. Would love to hear from you or anyone else active on this page.
Joanna Penn says
In terms of getting into libraries, you can still do this going independent – I’d recommend you take a look at ‘Opening up to indie authors’ – the second half has info about getting into libraries, bookstores etc http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JT1NW2Y/
This sums up the craziness I experience almost every day. Okay…now it’s time I get back to work! Thanks for the sharing.
G. Elizabeth Kretchmer says
First of all, please stop hanging out inside my head. There are already enough characters in there. I don’t need you in there too. 🙂
Second, I think you forgot one thing. About forgetting.
“I forget what I wanted to write today.”
Then, later…”This is such a brilliant idea. I don’t need to write it down. I’ll never forget it!” Ha!
Thanks for posting this, Joanna. And for all your other great blog posts too.
Joanna Penn says
Glad it resonated and I have an answer to forgetting 🙂 I use Things app on my phone and I have a list there for random writing thoughts to come back to later – so that’s one thing that doesn’t happen to me … the rest, well, it seems we are not alone by the number of comments!
Shaquanda Dalton says
I feel this way all the time. Even mid writing sessions and especially while editing. It’s time like this when you really have to remember your core goals and what you want in the long haul and to strive for that everyday no matter what the evil thoughts sing to you.
Christine Kenworthy says
This made me laugh as I ride this rollercoaster too. Good to know I am not alone!
J.P. Kenna says
“I will not self-censor, I will write my dark truth.” Beautifully said! While I relate to all the contradictions, I find that one to be the most profound.
Victoria Carr says
Writing is like drug use. I get sucked in and I’m in this fourth dimension that makes my heart race and my eyes wide with shock, surprise, even madness, and then I come down. Later, I can look back at what I wrote and be moved to tears not believing the words came from me. At first I hide them. And then, slowly, I become brave enough to show them to those closest to me. When they return my words to me and I look into their tear-filled eyes, I know they shared the trip with me.
i really thought I was the only one who felt this way and had these thoughts. Now I see how normal my abnormal is! Thanks Joanna
Joshua Ryan Ogg says
Ha yes! Pretty much sums it up.
I think writers are notorious for a whirlwind of competing thoughts and emotions. It’s how we can understand what these fictional people are going through and translate it for the reader.
Crazy as it is to have that war going on inside, it fuels the creative fire.
It’s like you read my mind! Night before last night I was in ecstasy(no not because I’d been to see 50 Shades-sorry jumping on the 50 Shades joke bandwagon;)) because I was on fire in terms of writing(in my head anyhoo!) I finally had to push myself to leave it and made a to do list for the following night(last night). Of course last night was a different story. Cue much wallowing and twitter reading and ‘what am I doing self pubbing anyway-if the editor found this much maybe I should just shelve(ba dum dum;)) this whole thing, gnash, sob … Back to ‘normal’ today(there seems to be a whole lot of crazy in there full time now that my characters have penetrated my brain … Great post!
Tracy Wilson says
Yes, I definitely get these daily. Thanks for sharing – it’s brave of you. It’s the maddening nature of it all that I find hard – do we have to deal with this madness to be writers?
Tim Lewis says
Quite amazing how many comments this blog post has received – I think you have hit the spot Joanna!
It makes a change from the last few blog posts I have commented on which had no replies from anyone. I replied on Michael Hyatt’s blog about a podcast episode where he was quite dismissive of self-publishers (personally I found mildly insultingly) and got no reply. In fact a few weeks later he announced he was removing all comments from his blog. I hope it wasn’t my fault – I didn’t think I was that snarky!
Joanna Penn says
These personal posts do tend to get more comments than the more practical posts 🙂
I don’t reply to all comments, especially on older posts. I can understand why Michael removed comments for practical reasons, there’s so much spam and it’s a lot of work to maintain a community feel – and his blog is a lot bigger than mine! But for now, comments remain on this blog.
Haha, oh yes, that’s definitely what I go through all the time as well!!! You’ve definitely hit a spot there. It’s always nice to see that we are all afraid of and confused by the same things, no matter where we are in the journey. And the questions are all those we have to ask ourselves.
That about sums it up. I also feel a rollercoaster of emotions just reading your post. From embarrassment to validation. I love the one about friends and family knowing what the hell you doall day, making them understand all this hard work is for a purpose. And no it’s not just a hobby. lol
“Making up stories is just stupid!”
Yes. Every. Word. Of, This.
Joanna Penn says
It’s great to get comments like this – shows I’m not crazy either 🙂 we’re all nuts together!
Astrid Nicholls says
Ah, so I’m not the only one on this wild ride! I’m kind of relieved, actually. Now how about this one:
I love to see my friends and family take an interest in my work, and I enjoy discussing my latest piece with them.
I want to tell them all to go away and let me get on with my writing.
Joanna Penn says
That’s a good one 🙂 The need for validation and enthusiasm from others vs just wanting to get on with things uninterrupted is a constant struggle for me too!