Wednesday, June 18, 2014

HOW DO YOU HANDLE SELF DOUBT WITH A DEADLINE LOOMING?


My guest is romance writer, Emily Greenwood. She focuses on something all writers (published or aspiring) have to deal with at some point or another: Self-Doubt. It's something that can stop a writer in their tracks or they can learn how to overcome it and still be successful.

What’s the hardest thing you've had to face as a writer? 

Self-doubt is probably the worst thing I deal with as a writer. 

And unfortunately, from what I know of my own experience and that of other writers, it doesn't go away, no matter how many years you put in.

For instance, while writing MISCHIEF BY MOONLIGHT, my current release, I felt certain I would never be able to finish the story—or at least not a story anyone would want to read, LOL.

I've been writing fiction for eight or nine years now, so I know it’s not always fun, that it’s work and sometimes you just have to soldier on and put words on the page. I know I’ll have to write a lot that will ultimately get thrown out because that’s my process.

But when I sat down to write MISCHIEF BY MOONLIGHT, the final book in my Regency Mischief series, I had nothing. Well, OK, I had a blurb that said the book was going to be about an earl in love with his best friend’s fiancée. The fiancée wanted to set him up with her sister, so she was going to give him a love potion and then realize that she had feelings for him herself. But that little paragraph I’d dreamed up when the book sold as part of a three-book series didn't inspire me now—it downright annoyed me!

Who cared about this Colin person, the hero, and whether he got together with Miss Josie Cardworthy? They didn't exist as the fleshed-out characters they now are, so there was nothing to love, no reason to care what would happen when Josie gave Colin a love potion. 

Every time I sat down at the computer, I wanted to jump up and run away. Doubt assailed me constantly: how would I ever come up with a 90 K story about these people? Who did I think I was?

  • What did you do and how did you over come it?
In between my disappointing efforts to put down words I surfed the internet, read other people’s books for “research,” scrubbed the bathroom floors with toothbrushes so I could make the grout sparkle, and made elaborate dinners for my family—anything to take me away from The Book That Was Never Going to Be Written.

I bought a book on procrastination, which told me that I wasn't procrastinating because I was lazy but because I perhaps had performance anxiety. That was possibly true—after all, I’d managed to write two books, why shouldn't I be able to write another one? But it didn't make me able to tell the story. I worried that I’d have to give back my advance.

So I got busy forcing myself and wrote page after terrible page. I signed up for NaNoWriMo, which I’d never done before, and made myself meet the daily word count. The pages were growing but the story didn't hang together at all, I still didn't care about these characters, and the deadline was getting closer.

So how did I write this story while self-doubt harassed me all day long? The answer isn't exciting. There was no magic cure. It was only this: 
I kept showing up and writing. That’s it. It was persistence, that boring, plodding quality that's probably the main thing that got me published to begin with. I just needed more of it than I ever had before.

  • What did did you learn?
It took a lot of hard work to write Mischief, and that’s what writing is—work. Sometimes it’s joyful work, when the words are flowing from some unknown source, and sometimes it’s nothing but a slog through the marshes of discouragement. 

I’m very proud of MISCHIEF BY MOONLIGHT now. I hope readers will find MISCHIEF funny and bittersweet and sexy and true. 

I’m really happy that I didn't let self-doubt stop me from writing it!

                                                                                                                                                                                  

With the night so full of romance...
Colin Pearce, the Earl of Ivorwood, never dreamed he'd desire another man's fiancée, but when his best friend goes off to war and asks Colin to look after the bewitching Josie Cardworthy, he falls under her sparkling spell.
Who can resist mischief?
Josie can't wait for the return of her long-absent fiancé. If only her beloved sister might find someone, too...someone like the handsome, reserved Colin. A gypsy's love potion gives Josie the chance to matchmake, but the wild results reveal her own growing passion for the earl. And though fate offers them a chance, a steely honor may force him to reject what her reckless heart is offering...


                                                                                                                                                     
Emily Greenwood worked for a number of years as a writer, crafting newsletters and fundraising brochures, but she far prefers writing playful love stories set in Regency England, and she thinks romance is the chocolate of literature. A Golden Heart finalist, she lives in Maryland with her husband and two children.
-Author websitehttp://emilygreenwood.net/

13 comments:

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Nice to meet you Emily!! I think self-doubt is something we all deal with, regardless of profession. I think what helps is surrounding yourself with the right friends and loved ones, people who believe in you :)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Welcome back to Over Coffee, Emily.

Self-doubt can be more destructive than your worse critic--which usually ourself.

I think one of the hardest lessons a writer learns is that the process is not all flowing inspiration. It's work.

Just because the words are hard to come by, at times, doesn't mean you aren't a writer or even a good writer--that's what many think when they hit a wall. It's like any job, Show up, sit down, and work.

Emily Greenwood said...

Optimistic, a good point, about how people in every profession have to deal with self-doubt. I agree that it's a good idea to seek out company --all the alone time can make a writer a little nuts :-)

Sia, thanks for having me back! That's a good little mantra you came up with: show up, sit down, and work.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Nothing like pressure to force a book out of you. Sometimes it's all about just showing up and doing the work. That's the only way it will ever get finished. Congratulations on finished that final book, Emily.

Johanna Garth said...

I have to second what you discovered. Sometimes you just have to write through that self-doubt, painful as it may be. Big congratulations on doing that and finishing the book!!

Emily Greenwood said...

Alex, I like that - "Nothing like pressure to force a book out of you." It's like it's in there, within us, but it needs the pressure to release it.

Johanna, thank you :-)

Sheila Deeth said...

Nice timing. I've been feeling I've taken on too many projects. But one's nearly finished, much to my surprise, just as a result of a friend telling me to show up and write every morning. Great advice.

Robin said...

And there is it is again. The only way through it is to place butt in chair and WRITE.

Kat Sheridan said...

Emily, I TOTALLY know that feeling (says the person who should be writing but instead is surfing favorite blogs!) It looks like it turned out wonderful! And now, back to the writing cave...

Jo said...

Congratulations for sticking with it. I can't imagine the effort you made to finish.

Good luck with the trilogy.

Emily Greenwood said...

Sheila, Robin, Kat, Jo -- thanks so much for your thoughts! We writers have to stick together, right?

Dani Harper said...

This post couldn't have come at a better time. Been really fighting with my WIP and the deadline is looming large. It helped a lot just knowing that I'm not alone in those feelings of self-doubt! And yes, 90% of writing is just typing one word after another. It might look like junk today, but I take comfort in knowing there'll be something useable in it (buried DEEP sometimes, LOL) when I look at it tomorrow.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Dani I had to laugh at the phrase, 'it might look like junk today...' It's so true when you're fighting for the next scene moving the story forward there are those days it all looks like junk. You feel unconnected. But, when you take a break and come back the next day and viola--it actually isn't bad and look! there's the kernel buried that ties it to something in future point in the plot. Kind of a ah-ha moment.

I sometimes think when we're disconnected...it's like our brain is involved on two levels...like we know what has to happen in the now but the unconsciously the creative brain is also looking ahead.

See, this is what happens when you have multiple personalities, lol!

Emily Thank you. This was such a timely reminder for all writers that self-doubt is always going to rear it's ugly head. For those determined to work through it there will be success for their efforts. Look at Mischief. And there several multi pubbed authors commenting here that agree.