The Struggle Is Real

Struggle PuppyI was going to have a completely different post this week, a continuation of the theme of change or about embracing our fears. I may post that next week.

I needed to change my post. If this is a journey we’re doing together, then I need to be honest with you. So here goes:

I’ve been struggling. I’ve been struggling a lot the last few weeks. Sure I have good writing days and not so good writing days. We all have those, and that’s OK.

But most days, i feel like a fraud.

I feel like a fraud because those nasty self-doubts I coach writers to work through, have been rearing their ugly heads. A lot.

Things like: It’s never going to happen, no one wants to read this, it’s terrible writing, I’m a terrible writer, I’m a failure, a complete and utter failure.

I don’t believe that my doubts are different or any stronger than anyone else’s.

They are my doubts, and I have been giving in to them. For that, I am ashamed and a fraud.

Except that I’m not.

I do take my own advice, and find ways to argue back against my inner saboteur, but I still give in.

That doesn’t make me a fair or a fraud. It makes me human.

It makes me a human, with depression. It’s not something I’m ashamed of. I struggled for many years before I even knew I had depression. Getting medical and psychological help for it has been a tremendous help. But that help doesn’t mean it will ever really go away. The depression may fade for a time, but it does come back, and when it does, I struggle, and I struggle a lot.

When I struggle with depression, I do my best to get words on the page. Often I have to be satisfied with a sentence or two, or the placement of a period. Most days I pick up my pen and paper or turn on my computer and stare at it for hours with no clue how to proceed, with too much noise in my head to form any kind of clear thought.

I know enough on the worst of days to be gentle with myself. To understand that I simply don’t have the energy or the mental fortitude to write anything that day and that if I take it easy today, tomorrow should be better. Often times it is.

I’ve been gentle with myself. I took it easy. I make myself write. I tell my inner saboteur to shut up. And the next day, I have to be gentle again. I tell myself that I’m drafting and that it doesn’t have to be perfect. I need to be patient with myself and the whole writing process. It’s the same stuff I coach my clients on. I pick up my pen, turn my computer on, and I try again, until it gets easier.

So what’s my point? My point is that I’ve been struggling.

My point is to tell you so that if you’re struggling, you know you’re not alone.

So here’s to better and brighter writing days.

2 thoughts on “The Struggle Is Real

  1. Resonant post for me. I recently edited a novel manuscript that had been largely written during my last Great Depression (with tremendous daily effort), and found that, for all my struggles to write characters appreciating the moment and so on, they all worried way too much, fell into despair deeper than the story (or their motivations) warranted, and/or did not react much at all when something that should have been life-altering occurred. Depression at once flattened some emotions and augmented others during the writing.

    Fortunately the plot was sound over-all, and so fixing it was a matter of bringing the characters’ emotional reactions into line with the plot points I’d already laid down, saving me several quantities of words devoted to the characters’ inner struggles that were unintentionally weighing down the forward motion of the story.

    But an eye-opener about how the writer’s state creeps into the work. And why it’s better to be kind to ourselves, if only so our characters can be kind too.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing, Jayne. My characters refuse to talk to me in these times. Sometimes I block them in return so we’re at a stalemate. Other times it’s a good reminder to shut off my brain and let them talk through me rather than to me.

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