I know I’m not alone. I am pretty sure most writers suffer from it. It presents itself with many symptoms, but the cause is the same. At some point, we lose confidence. Without warning, we are sure that we can’t write, that everything we write is crap, and everything we’ve ever written is crap.
For me, this condition crops up at regular, predictable intervals. I’ll be writing along, and suddenly it all seems so much dross. The outline sounds stupid, juvenile, uninteresting. The story is just so much blathering. I hate what I’ve written, I’m sure everyone will hate what I’ve written, and I can see no point in continuing.
I’ve hit it. I’ve hit the 30k wall.
It’s weird, but it’s true. At around 30,000 words, at 60k, and again at 90k, I get this sudden slump in confidence. It’s completely inexplicable, and almost impossible for me to avoid. Nor does it matter how long I’ve been working on a book. I get blue, my self-esteem goes down the drain, and if I look at my word count (by my methods), I find that I’m somewhere near a 30k marker.
In the past, the only way for me to get past this has been to print out what I have, hand it to my wife, and let her read it so she can assure me that, no, I have not forgotten how to write, and yes, what I’ve written so far is good. It’s a terrible, craven thing to do, making her read a work-in-progress like that, but it’s been the only way to break through the wall for some time now.
Until this last time.
This last time I was able to break through it myself by reading some of my older, published works. They were old enough that I was able to come at them with “fresh eyes,” and read them as if they were written by someone else. In so doing, I realized that, hey, these are good, and I wrote them. Ergo, ipso facto, therefore…
If I’m proud of what I’ve written, if I really, truly believe what I’ve written is good, when I go back to it, years later, I feel that again. Sure, I’ll want to re-edit the hell out of it, but that’s because I’ve grown as a writer. That’s good, too.