Faith Failures (and recoveries)

NaNoWriMo 2013 is about to draw to a close, and in a few hours I’ll be putting another notch in my belt. Nine years, nine wins. Not bad, eh?

This year was definitely a challenge. I really fought to stay motivated. I’ve already discussed the fact that I have quite a few very legitimate distractions this year, but to be honest, I don’t think my personal life played that much of a role in my struggles.

I think I lost faith in my own writing.

Anyone who pursues creative ventures, whether it’s painting, or music, or writing, knows exactly what I’m talking about. At some point during the creative process, you start to think, “I can’t do this.”

And it’s not just about the current work in progress. We all know that NaNo manuscripts, or “zero drafts” as we affectionately call them, aren’t usually very good.

No, it’s more of a complete loss of belief in your ability to pursue whatever creative art you’re currently struggling to complete: “I can’t write. Not now. Not before. Not ever. I am not able to do this. This is no longer for me.”

I don’t usually entertain these types of thoughts very often, luckily. But this year, it’s been a month-long struggle. “This story isn’t any good. It’s a sequel to a story that isn’t particularly good. Maybe none of those stories are good? Maybe I need to stop doing this.”

I know that Faith Failures happen. They are part of the process, and they are typically transitory. So I soldiered on, as much to lead by (poor) example as to succeed in my own goals. But I wasn’t feeling very good about it.

Luckily, our region does a fun exercise during our TGIO party: we read aloud excerpts that are submitted anonymously, and then try to guess the author.┬áSo last night I decided to review this year’s manuscript to try to scrape together a few paragraphs that might suit for TGIO. And I realized (as I always do, but never seem to remember): “This isn’t all that bad. And here, here, and here? These spots are really quite good!

Some years you’re on a rich vein of gold. Some years you’re panning for a few nuggets. Or maybe even slivers. But the lesson I have to come back to is: you can’t find the gold if you’re not looking.

And I always find gold. Some years more, some years less. But always some. And it doesn’t take much at all to renew my faith, for at least one more year.

Goodbye NaNoWriMo 2013. NaNoWriMo 2014, I’ll see you soon.

1 Comment

  • Great lesson, Ted. I needed that reminder, since I lost some faith in my own writing this year, as well. Thanks. And glad you were able to dust off that ego of yours by the end. As much as I hate to inflate it, you are a really fantastic writer. And I should know, since I spent hours going over the intimate details of your first book, before the sequel. I’m excited to read what you have!

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