I’m feeling sappy today, y’all. It’s been a long, hard, tremulous year-and-a-half—I accidently gave my computer a tea bath (NOT recommended!), my mom’s been in and out of the hospital this spring, the cat I got when I was ten died, I had to put the dog I’ve had since I was twelve (who shares my main character’s name) to sleep, and I’ve been working on the most depressing book EVER through the entire process. It isn’t over—it isn’t even close!—but I’ve found myself in a margin of calm, and I’ve had some time to reflect and absorb, and instead of killer writing advice and tips, I really just want to hug everybody. I want to hug you. All of you.
Maybe you’re putting pen to paper for the very first time on your very first book. Maybe you’re five books in and still submitting, wading through the hellish waters that is querying. Maybe you’re struggling through a rather intense plot development or well on your way to having your third novel published. Whatever stretch of your writing path you’re on, I’m here to hug you, and I’m here to tell you it’s okay, the good and the bad. Be elated and believe you’re a genius. Have happy dances and nibble on chocolates and give yourself nerdy high fives. Be crazy. Be lost. Get confused. Worry. Wonder what the heck you’re doing with your life and where oh where this is going. Cry and get mad and want to give up sometimes.
It’s okay to get neurotic. Normal even. As writers we have to explore the deepest, darkest crevices of the heart and mind. We take those dreaded “WHAT IF…” questions to their extremes. We spend hours alone living in fake lands full of fake people with very real thoughts and fears and dreams, so it’s only natural for the lines to blur and our own hearts and minds to be plagued by the very things we work so hard to expose—for those little Negative Nancys to whisper evil words in our ears:
- Why am I doing this again?
- Do my readers and critique partners really like it, or do they just like me?
- If my readers and critique partners are the only people who see my work, am I even a writer? Does that make me an imposter? And like, what do I tell people when they ask me what I do?
- Is this novel too long? Too short? Too telly? Too vague? Are there too many exclamation points? Is it too weird? Too familiar? Too <insert literally any word here>?
- Is that really how you’re supposed to use a comma?
- Does this suck?
- Does my writing suck?
- Do I suck?
- Will the rest of my forever be filled with suck?
- Should I quit?
It’s good to question if this is really what you want and love, but it’s important not to let the negativity control you—to remember to keep dreaming. Keep wishing. Keep reaching for those stars. If you write, you are a writer. You don’t prove it by being an international bestseller, making millions, getting published, having an agent, or the number of people that read or enjoy your work. You prove it by doing it over and over, day in and day out, through the good, through the bad, through the sad, happy, and mad.
It’s a long, hard, tremulous road we walk. We will stumble and fall. We will skin our knees and get blisters on our feet, and we may lose some toenails along the way, but we do not fall or dream alone. Believe in yourself and your fellow writers. Hold hands and hug and grumble and stuffs sometimes because that’s important too, but if this is what you want, if this is what you love, never give up, and never stop believing. Dreams really do come true.
Hugs and hearts to all,
The Teenage Witch