When Writers Falter: How to Find Your Way Back

I wrote a while ago about how writing is a long road, about how we’re in it for the long haul, how dedication and perseverance and stubbornness are traits a writer needs. But now I’d like to talk about the other side of that coin. Long journeys suck. There’s the point halfway to arriving at your destination where the tiredness almost makes you sick, where standing on the ground you’re walking on is better than one more step.

We all get it.

Taking rejection well, keeping the end in sight and dusting yourself off are all things I’ve spoken about. But what about that real, suffocating, “this-is-it” feeling? That moment when you may, in all seriousness, never write another word again. There are ways around it.


1. Forget what you think.

What are you afraid of? Sometimes, we’re not scared of failure. We’re scared of success. I’ve been that sort of writer for years. I’ll be honest, there were times in writing my MA novel that I thought, this could be something. And then I didn’t write a word for weeks. The idea of living up to your expectations can be as scary as the idea of letting yourself down. So forget what you think. Write the story you have to write, and let what happens follow as it will.


2. Take your time.

Is this the right time for a rest stop? All good journeys have rest time. You can be exhausted one day, and after a decent night’s sleep you’ll have a clearer head. The same is true for your writing journey. Take the time that you need.


3. Close your eyes.

One of the most memorable scenes of any film for me is Indiana Jones’ leap of faith as he searches for the Holy Grail. Writing—and life—can be like that. Maybe you’ll fall. Maybe there will be someone to catch you, maybe there won’t. But close your eyes and leap anyway.


If you’ve written, if writing is what you do, you’re a writer—publishing credits aside. Don’t let a few bad steps throw you off course.


Helen Dring is a fiction writer from Liverpool, England. She is studying for an MA in Creative Writing and is currently writing her first novel. She likes fairy tales, ghost stories and modern history.

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