Writing is fits and starts. It is slog and glide. It is by turns frustrating and exhilarating and frustrating yet again. This is hard. Anyone who tells you otherwise is doing you a disservice.
Earlier this week, I found myself struggling with my work-in-progress. The story had been moving along well until, without any warning, my momentum stalled. I had turned to a new section, switching point of view characters, and my new narrator was grappling with self-doubt, churning through emotions that required exploration. They were as difficult for me to describe as they were for her to process.
Yesterday, as she finally achieved a bit of clarity, so did my writing. I regained the momentum I had lost, and she moved forward again, emotionally and physically.
Now, I suppose it’s not super revelatory that as our characters struggle, we often do, too, and that clarity for them can carry with it clearer storytelling for us. But it does go to the heart of an essential truth about the creative process: Writing is not a linear act, any more than any other artistic venture. In this case, my character struggled, and I struggled along with her. She had to go through that period of self-doubt. The epiphany that came to her couldn’t have arrived earlier. She had to earn it. And so in this case, it was okay that I lost some momentum. That was what had to happen for both of us to move on.
Sometimes that’s not the case. My struggles don’t always coincide with those of my narrators. Sometimes I just scuffle. And that’s part of writing as well. Again, this is not a uniformly linear process.
Writing is fits and starts. It is slog and glide. It is by turns frustrating and exhilarating and frustrating yet again. This is hard. Anyone who tells you otherwise is doing you a disservice. But the rewards, in my experience, are always worth the pain. It’s a cliché, but one that is worth repeating: If writing were easy, if the challenges were less daunting, the successes would be less sweet.
Embrace the struggle. It is endemic to the creative act.