Recently I had one of those really bad days—when everything that could go wrong did (or at least seemed to).
It started when I burned the rolls I was making for Easter. After mixing the dough and letting it rise and all that good stuff, I placed the rolls in the oven for 15 minutes, set the timer, and went upstairs to write.
When the timer went off, I rushed down, covered the pan with foil (so that the tops wouldn’t burn), and then put the rolls back in to bake a little longer.
I ran upstairs and started writing again. 45 minutes later, I sat up, sniffed, and caught the whiff of baking rolls.
“Smells delicious,” was my first thought.
Then my second thought (after a long confused moment) was, “Shoot! The rolls are still in the oven!”
I’d forgotten to set the timer for the second 15-minute-round of baking. They'd over-baked by at least 30 minutes.
I flew downstairs to the oven, took one look at the crusty, dark brown lumps, and let out a cry of despair. All I could do was toss them on the counter, stare at them, and fight back tears.
All that hard work for nothing. (Or so I thought. As it turns out, my kids don’t really mind eating crunchy, rock-hard rolls. Whew!)
At the time, I’d just finished reading through the Galleys for Unending Devotion (releasing Sept. 1). The Galleys are the last edits an author can make on a book, taking place after the book has had both a substantive edit (for clarity, transitions, length, etc.) and a copy edit (for grammar, punctuation, timeline, etc.).
I’ve always had a hard time reading the Galleys of my books. By the time this stage comes, I’ve lost all love for the book particularly because I’ve worked on it so much already. And I’ve also given myself plenty of distance from the book so that I can now view it with a critical eye. In fact, my eye has grown overly critical, and as I read the Galleys, I end up saying these kinds of things:
“Everything sounds so stilted.”
“I’m so repetitious. I can’t believe how many times I repeated the word stepped. What was wrong with me?” (Seems I have several pet words that I repeat in every book!)
“This is so slow-moving. It’s boring. And I can’t stand it.”
While combing through my Galleys, my anxiety keeps rising and winding tighter, until I’m sure I’m the worst writer that ever lived.
Unfortunately, the wishy-washy emotions that resulted from the burned rolls and my Galleys joined forces, so that when I returned to my desk to work on my WIP, all the insecurities sat down with me and began to taunt me.
At that particular point, I was having trouble finding a specific research book that I needed. And my online searches had turned up mostly empty as well. I started to feel like a lousy researcher, unable to get the accurate details I needed to add richness to my story.
As I glared at the screen of my laptop at the half-filled page, all I could think was that now my WIP was worthless too. Compared to those other historical writers out there who are such experts in their time periods, I was a lousy failure.
Suddenly I couldn’t see anything good about any of my writing. I laid my head down and wondered why I’d ever thought I could write in the first place.
I share all of my insecurities for a couple of reasons.
One, I want to show that nobody always has it all together all the time. Insecurities happen no matter where we’re at in our publication journeys. We all ride the waves of doubt.
Two, I want to encourage us not to let the waves of insecurities drown us. When we feel like we’re sinking, we need to keep paddling forward anyway. The difference between those who make it and those who don’t is the ability to persevere. Some give up too soon. Those who keep writing and growing are bound to get where they want to go eventually.
I try to cling to hope and remember these things:
Never let the odds keep you from doing what you know in your heart you were meant to do. ~H Jackson Brown Jr.
Never, never, never give up. ~Winston Churchill
Believe you can, and you’re halfway there. ~Theodore Roosevelt
When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on. ~Thomas Jefferson
A good laugh and a long sleep are the two of the best cures for anything. ~Irish Proverb
I’m collecting a board of inspiring pins over on Pinterest that I can look at when those insecurities come. I invite you to head over and read some of the sayings whenever you need encouragement too.
So what about you? Have you had a day (or moment) recently where you felt insecure about your writing and thought about giving up? What helps you keep going when you’re tempted to throw in the towel?