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is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date.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
Thank you for writing about this topic. It made my day. It’s refreshing to see so many people, including myself, acknowledge the rainbow of feelings writers go through every day. It is a noble calling to be vulnerable and put your words to paper, hoping it will resonate with someone while trying to find validation, make a living and carry on to the next project. I know we’re not all meant for mega fame and millions of copies sold and movie deals, but what we have to say is just as important all the same.
Hannah A. R. Brock says
YES….I literally feel this way every day. up and down and up and down… but you know what, I never quit, and I’m sure you do not quit either. No matter how you feel, there is a hope that must be shared.
Jim WIlbourne says
This resonates with me and my creative life. I do other creative endeavors (music, audio production) and I have parallel thought patterns with those as well.
I hate the ‘I’m feeling down on myself days.’ On those days I can never finish enough work to make myself happy. I can never find the right words on sing well enough to feel like I’m not a hack.
Then I have days when I feel like I’m absolutely brilliant and I did a lot towards my career.
I’m not sure that this will ever end and I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. I think I need those bad days to keep me from getting too comfortable. They keep me looking forward for the next big accomplishment.
Stefanie F says
I agree with the paragraph about just being on social media. I have these moments with writing apathy. Great way to express what a lot of us go through!
Well said! I think all of us writers battle these highs and lows.
Thanks for all you share on your blog, from your success, to info, to insights like this. It’s a great service to us newbies.
Shane Hall says
I just wanted to say that this post, especially the beginning two paragraphs, helped inspire my first ever blog post on writemoreandbetter.com
It’s called “How to Love Writing by Not Loving Writing”. I ended up writing it because I felt that I was in the same back and forth roller coaster mood, but in a more melancholy way.
I hope you get a moment to read it. It’s about the most important thing a fiction writer should care about, ideas.
Joanna Penn says
Glad you found it useful, Shane!
I read Shane Hall’s blog and two days later had time to comment. I thought it was excellent. What happened? The blog can’t be found…
Joanna Penn says
I guess we all reserve the right to delete posts if we share too much …
EC Sheedy says
This post had me smiling. I have experience with pretty much everyone of these thoughts and feelings.
Truly, it’s a wonder more of us scribes aren’t locked up somewhere. LOL
Yet, we carry on and on and . . .
Jesse McGlown says
Thank you for your insight, and the degree of commiseration it’s given me! I’ve written two novels over the past sixteen months, and am experiencing moods ranging from “Woo Hoo, Bud! Look at what you’ve done!” to “Why have I wasted time I could’ve spent working some minimum wage job?” We are an arguably certifiable breed. I love the actual periods of painting on that blank canvas…the ensuing proofreading and polishing? Ugh. I am waxing paranoid these days, second-guessing my efforts, wondering if it’s all been a waste of time. How refreshing to find fellow writers experiencing the same angst. I am 3.5 chapters into yet another one…and experiencing episodes of dejection, futility, feeling stupid for continuing to try…you reach the point where you no longer want to tell anyone that you’re still doing it. Thank you, again, for this forum in which we can at least attempt to reassure one another that we’re NOT aliens or misfits…just that God has a profound sense of humor from time to time.
Clare McVey says
Gosh I could lift whole sections of what you wrote there and it is exactly what I’m going through. You have summed up the emotional and psychological wrangle I have. I’m half way through my first novel and daren’t even call it a novel. Is it true to say that it’s not a novel unless or until it has been published? Is it just a story at the moment?
But equally I have that first time novelist’s (no doubt misplaced) confidence. I still imagine that all the things that Joanne outlined in her blog are possible. I need to hang on to that optimism for as long as possible otherwise there’s no point in continuing.
Joanna Penn says
You can say you’re writing a novel 🙂 and I know how hard it is writing that first one. Just keep reading and learning and then putting it into practice. All the best.
Amanda Moran-Soley says
Ha! Yes! Daily. I cycle through these on a daily basis.
We must all be one chapter away from the men in white coats!
Kayla Dawn Thomas says
Yep, this about sums up my writing day. Great post.
Thank you Joanna for sharing how you experience the writing life. It’s encouraging to know a successful writer has what I’ve named ‘creative chaos.’ I’ve written blog posts for years, but am currently working on my first non-fiction book. A new experience and a new adventure in learning how to enjoy my own roller coaster ride. I guess right now I’m still holding on to the bar of the roller coaster. I hope soon to put my hands in the air and enjoy the ride. Your posts are so valuable – thank you.
M Sohan says
It is this roller-coaster ride that helps to come out with new and fresh ideas. When two or more thoughts collide, always a new thought form emerges. At least, this is what happens to me while I write short stories. And trust me, I myself get surprised by the flow of such new ideas. Because In the midst of CHAOS, a new ray of LIGHT always emerges …
Krithika Rangarajan says
Aaah…so my daydreams of winning a Pulitzer Prize don’t seem so nutty anymore 😉
LOL – thank you for this witty post that had me grinning and nodding all along. I am at that ‘my mind is empty phase’ and it is scary 🙁
BUT I continue to dream about not only translating my book (oh wait, do I have to write this too? 😉 ) into a feature film that stars George Clooney and me 😛 hehe
Thanks Joanna #HUGSSSSSSSSSS
OODLES of love
Joe Kovacs says
Great post, Joanna. The human mind at work: at one moment confident, the next full of self-doubt. You know what your post reminded me of immediately? Samuel Beckett’s The Unnamable:
“…you must say words, as long as there are any, until they find me, until they say me, strange pain, strange sin, you must go on, perhaps it’s done already, perhaps they have said me already, perhaps they have carried me to the threshold of my story, before the door that opens on my story, that would surprise me, if it opens, it will be I, it will be the silence, where I am, I don’t know, I’ll never know, in the silence you don’t know, you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on”
Most people know the last few clipped sentences, “I can’t go on, I’ll go on.” But the whole phrase just screams out about human uncertainty and the weight of decision-making. Your blog post came from pretty much the same place.
Keep going, one step at a time!
Sable Aradia says
Exactly right. And every day. Spot on.
“JANE! Stop this crazy thing!!”
Ahem… Yes, I understand perfectly. Thank you for writing it down. 🙂
Elise M. Stone says
Just got your newsletter with the link to this post, so late to comment, but YES, I do feel like this almost every day. Some days I take off from writing and social media both. 🙂
It takes a lot of butt glue and determination for me to sit and type words all the way to THE END. I’m filled with despair when facing a first draft, knowing that it will take me at least as long to revise and edit as it did to write the book in the first place.
But then I look at MY BOOKS for sale on Amazon and know I’m no longer a wannabe, but an actual writer, and I get giddy. I’m signing books at the Tucson Festival of Books on Saturday. Me! Just like all the other authors. I read scenes I wrote and tears come to my eyes because they’re so good.
So, yeah, we all live on the roller coaster. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Joanna Penn says
Thanks Elise – and yes, days off from writing and the internet in general are critical for not going crazy!
Ophelia Blatner says
I loved this post. Really original and doubt soothing. I totally recognize myself in those mood swings linked with self-publishing. It ineed requires a lot of courage to put our imagination and ideas out there. But you’re doing it wonderfully!
Joanna Penn says
I’m glad to help soothe your doubts Ophelia – I just need to keep reminding myself of this post every time I am hit with another wave!
Beth Jones says
This was an INCREDIBLE post! Just shared via Twitter and Facebook. I related so much to this and LOVE your quote: “I will not self-censor. I will write my dark truth.”
Joanna Penn says
I’m glad it resonated with you, Beth!
Joanna, I just have one question. Well, not true, I have a LOT of questions but one in particular.
How did you get your hands on my daily journal??
Those sound so familiar. But it still beats the cubicle…
Joanna Penn says
🙂 Our journals look similar then!
Dominique Malherbe says
I cannot imagine writing my feelings on the whole world of writing, publishing, earning, blogging, whatever better than this! You are my find of the day Joanne and I feel so much happier for it!
Thanks for your thoughts and blog!