Some authors say writing a book is like a love story. Writers, they say, go through the same ups and downs with a manuscript as they would in a romantic relationship.
In that case, I think my manuscript and I just had our first fight.
Last week I was so sick of my book that I didn’t want to write it. Didn’t want to talk to him, didn’t want to look at him. I needed a break from him altogether.
I didn’t expect this, and it gave me a sinking feeling in my stomach. I mean, we’ve been together for six months, and I’ve put so much work into this relationship! Why was I suddenly having these negative feelings? How could I feel annoyed and repulsed by a manuscript I’ve loved so strongly from the beginning? And what did this mean for the future? I’ve still got the rest of the book to write, then the editing and publishing process ahead of me.
It didn’t stem from self-doubt, an obstacle books on writing say I’ll find myself up against sooner or later. I’m perfectly content with what I’ve written so far, and I still think I’ve got an awesome story to tell. I’m just tired of actually writing it.
In retrospect, I should have seen this coming, should have realized that I’d grow tired of working on the same project month after month. But it never occurred to me that I’d get sick of my own book, a story I chose to write. (It’s reminiscent of a bout of fatigue I faced during my travels in Africa, at the two-and-a-half-month mark. Following that dream had its challenges, too.)
So, here I was last week, feeling guilty, ashamed even, about the tiff with my manuscript. But then I mentioned it to a few author friends, and you know what they said? That it’s normal for a writer to feel this way about their book. Entirely normal!
What a relief. Hearing that other writers also go through hate phases with their book and still manage to crank it out inspired me. If they can do it, I can do it, too.
This weekend, I took an important steps toward reconciling with my manuscript: I gave myself some personal space, two days away from writing to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday with friends, with the hopes that this week I’ll see my work with fresh eyes.
Fellow writers, how do YOU do it? How do you overcome this apparently common bump in the road?
UPDATE: I’m happy to report that this downer of a phase IS just a phase! It does pass! How’d I get through it? After my weekend-long break, I forced myself to write, and soon finished a chapter. That feeling of being productive, of knowing I was one chapter closer to completing my manuscript, was enough to make me fall in love with the story again.