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is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date.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
I love writing but I get writers block alot but I feel like I could make a living doing it
It’s been a while since anyone has added anything here. I will have to say; I love writing. But I don’t think any of things above. I am more I have to write curriculum because geez common core has changed my lessons. Or. These kids need to know this before they go on to the next level. They depend on me. Or. I want to keep parents off my neck so I have to get the grading done. I love teaching but it sucks up my time. Now I need to write. Stories.
As a blogger/aspiring/starting out writer who wants to write a book and is pretty much a hopeful chicken shit – this is pretty much me every minute of the day – all of it! Thank you for making me feel not crazy 🙂
Joanna Penn says
We’re all nutters in this game 🙂
Richard Huckle (@uktrue) says
Writing is not a problem. Ideas that become outlines, that become stories that become – nothing! Starting has never been a problem. Finishing the book is where the things go wrong?
Debbie Polosky says
Yes! That’s my problem!!! I’ve started at least a dozen books, but just get bored and move on to a new idea. I write articles, and those are easy to finish because I have am editor that gets on me about finishing them. I think I just need that push..
Cat Grant says
All too often I find myself getting all Debbie Downer-ish about my work, e.g., “Every word is crap! I should just chuck it all and take up knitting!”
Only I can’t knit worth crap, either.
Joanna Penn says
I can’t knit either – I don’t consider it a character flaw though 🙂
Every day! Sometimes I think it’s the bipolar up and down ride that makes me keep on going… and other times I don’t 😉
I can’t identify with everyone one of these exactly. But I CAN identify with the feeling of vacillating between highs and lows – feeling really good, then really bad about my work – and often going back and forth, confused, about what to do next in this crazy publishing world! So yes! Yes, It’s a roller coaster. It’s good to know we’re not alone.
Ah, this made me smile! Just last night I was ranting to my partner about how awful my writing is, I should just hang it up, etc.
“So why don’t you stop?”
“Are you kidding me? I love this.”
Anne R. Allen says
Oh, yeah! I ride this roller coaster every day. Thanks for putting it into words!
Lukasz Sobczuk says
If you want to be good at it, you have to make it a habit. Ups and downs are the norm in any field, creative and otherwise. What sets good writers apart from aspiring ones is that they’ve put writing into their daily routine and pushed through doubt, fear, and mediocrity.
Miranda Kate says
Everyday I tell myself that I don’t really want to be a writer, and daydream about never having to think about it again – how much free head space I would have. Then I see a picture, get a story in my head and off I go!
It can be very tiring. LOL
C. Yolanda Anderson Williams says
Joanna, thank you for sharing your post! It’s a delight and relief to know that I’m not alone. (Misery likes company. ) 🙂
To everyone else, I enjoyed reading your comments.
I’m somewhat new to this writing passion. Well, in truth, I’ve been penning poems for approximately 30 years. However, it was only for the past seven years that I realized and acknowledged my subtle joy in writing short stories/articles – though seldom. Still, I did not follow my heart.
Having spent approximately 20 years in the corporate world, it suddenly hit me that something was missing; hence, I went ‘in search of me’. So here I am – on this crazy roller coaster ride…sometimes at a loss for words – though my brain and thoughts refuse to be still. Ideas constantly flooding my mind, but procrastination often wins. Really pathetic!
Would you believe that I’ve, also, been writing a book for years! I’ve been struggling with the notion of how I should do so. Do I reveal my “dark truths – allowing myself to be vulnerable, as I think it necessary to write what’s on my heart. I’ve discarded one chapter after another, time and again.
All is not lost, though. I’ll get there!
Best wishes to you all in your writing journey!
Joanna Penn says
Hi Yolanda, I spent 13 years in corporate before escaping to do this full-time – it can be done!
On the fear of revealing dark truths, check this out: http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2013/03/17/writing-fear-of-judgment/
because I know exactly how you feel!
Russ Herald says
A good day to get this post: I sat down tonight and watched a movie (Red) instead of churning out my daily word count.
I’m a fledgling writer, so I can’t yet identify with the fears that come from having published. But the others – yep, they’re mostly mine, too.
It’s helpful to be reminded that it’s normal to be up, then down. Thanks for putting this out there.
Joanna Penn says
RED is an awesome movie too 🙂 We can all learn from good stories, in any format!
Ha, I wrote a very similar post on my blog back in 2013, with a similar rollercoaster picture too :-). We all go through this. It’s a vital part of the creative process. It’s key to critical self analysis and editing, but it always sucks just the same. Great to read these kinds of posts every now and then, and perhaps even more important to write them. Thanks for sharing.
Funny the juxtaposition of enthusiasm and doubt you’ve written about here. As writers we all share in these, and like you and others in the comments have said, it’s a struggle with every sentence.
Even this comment was a struggle!
The question I have is how do you put those doubts out of your mind while you write? Do you have a specific habit or technique?
Thanks again for sharing all that you do!
Joanna Penn says
A couple of things
1) Read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and then Do The Work, also by him – you could also listen to this interview with him where he kicks my ass for disrespecting the muse 🙂 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dB_kx2pH-IE
2) Then find your habit for writing and stick with it – I go to a specific cafe at a specific time, plug in my earphones and put on rain & thunderstorms on repeat and write until I have to get up to the bathroom about 2 hours later – my job is to be there and start typing – and trust emergence 🙂
I hope that helps 🙂
One of the biggest writing gremlins that bounces around the brain space for me is the concept of momentum. I started a freelance writing business (copywriting for web sites, blogs, etc.) and I’ve only had the bare minimum of freelance work, and that came via word-of-mouth with a colleague. I have a cool concept for my business, a good web site, a social presence, and enough portfolio work that I can be proud of my skills. However, new work is nearly impossible to find. There is no momentum for me, despite publishing a modest blog with some followers. Maybe the idea of momentum leads to the idea of fear…fear of what will happen to all of my effort, fear about whether I will be successful, etc. Sorry, that was a brain dump but I think at least somewhat related to your blog article!
Joanna Penn says
Momentum takes a lot longer than you think to build up. I started this site in 2008 & the podcast in 2009 and got very little traffic for several years – but I did it because I loved it and was learning too. I was able to leave my job in Sept 2011, and I started writing in 2006, so that first shift took 5 years – then it really was 2015/2015 when I made enough income to consider the business successful. So 10 years 🙂 That’s about par for any business to be honest – so just keep trucking!
Jessica Boudreaux says
I’ve been ’round on this rollercoaster many, many times.
Tony "LarrikinAussie" Sargeant says
And yet you appear to be relatively sane in your videos, albeit with a wan smile and delightful British accent. That is definitely the mind-map of a genuinely disturbed individual. Perhaps, I’m just meant to be in this bloody writing caper, after all. You are a shot in the arm, of pure and undiluted inspiration, Joanna. Cheers. Keep grinnin’, mate.
Joanna Penn says
I’m worried about the ‘wan’ smile – dictionary definition “pale and giving the impression of illness or exhaustion” – perhaps you meant a different word? (I hope so!)
Mary Jo Fortes says
Just having stepped up from the kiddie rides to the BIG rollercoaster, I have only begun to get serious about my writing over the past few months (although I have been penning stories since I could hold a crayon). Just for fun,” I joined a writer’s group at my local library and I have hit the ground running–alternating between exhilaration, exhaustion, and severe esteem issues! Somewhat of a comfort to know that I am not alone, screaming and ripping my hair out as the coaster corkscrews, only to get that rush I love so much when a piece comes together!
Thank you, Joanna, for continuing to get on that rollercoaster, pushing through your own self-doubt, and bringing your inspiration and knowledge to all of us–I have benefited immensely!
Joanna Penn says
Parts of the rollercoaster are fun 🙂 Glad you’ve joined the ride!
Edison Roofing Experts says
I just started in my career of writing- mainly blog posts. You pretty much summed up my new experience in it!