Top 10 Tips for Overcoming the I Suck Funk

March 8, 2012

***As part of our birthday week celebration, we’re picking our favorite posts of the last year. This is Elley’s favorite. It originally appeared on the blog on July 8, 2011.

The other day, my CP sent along a chapter attached to a familiar-sounding email.  She wrote how she hated the chapter, and she added that she’d hit a dead end, was staring at blank pages and generally felt disillusioned with her writing. I knew before I even read the chapter that it wasn’t going to be as bad as she thought. I knew because I do this sort of thing too.

If not once a month, at least once a manuscript, I send off an email declaring, “I suck. The WIP sucks. I’m prepared for you to dump my unworthy ass—or at least shower me with disgust.” That has yet to happen. Instead, she calls me crazy…and I’m not offended, because she’s right.

Aren’t we all crazy? I mean we admit to having people wandering around in our heads telling us what to write. They argue with us. They pout. And then they do or say something so marvelous that they have us plowing through family members and leaping furniture in order to get to pen and paper or laptop to jot down the moment of brilliance. Considering all that, I’m okay with crazy. What I’m not okay with is a perfectly good writer getting depressed enough to stop writing.

So without further ado, here are the top 10 (sort-of-serious, hopefully humorous) tips for overcoming the I Suck Funk.

10. Read a really sucky book. (Use Amazon or Goodreads to find a horrifically low-ranking title.) As you read, loudly declare, “I can do better than this.”

9. Read a completed manuscript that you enjoyed writing. As you read, jot down your favorite lines on Post-it notes (aka Sean Kowalski-style—Shannon Stacey’s Yours to Keep) and stick them around your writing area…no, your entire house…to remind yourself of your writing prowess.

8. Let your CP know you’re in a bad way. (Don’t have a CP? Enlist the help of a trusted friend or your mother—if she can handle what you write – or your spouse—if he wouldn’t rather poke his eyes out than read about people falling in love.) Be bold. Ask for her (or him) to read something you’ve written and comment on what’s good—at least five things they liked. Tell her (or him) to keep her (or his) mouth shut about the negatives. This isn’t a critique. It’s a lie-if-you-have-to, build-the-bitch-back-up read through. There’s already enough negativity rolling around in your head.

7. Spend inordinate amounts of time working on your blog, website, Twitter and Facebook. Soon your eyes will burn, your ass will hurt and your head will feel so stuffy you’ll have to walk away from the laptop and engage in real life for a few days. There’s nothing like real life to push you back into the imaginary world in your head.

6. Quit writing. Seriously. Throw your hands up in the air, and declare, “I’m done. I’ve wasted how many years of my life? I suck. Nobody will ever pay money to read what I write.” And turn the laptop off. Better yet, put it away…on the top of a closet shelf. Close the door. Spit on it. Now—and this is the important part—sit down at the dining table and make a list of all the things you can do since you’re no longer wasting your time writing, things like: laundry, cleaning house, lawn care, planning a family reunion, dental appointments, pap smears. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Nah. Go get the laptop. Kiss it. Hug it. Because even sucky writing is better than washing dishes.

5.  Read or watch something seriously depressing about dreams unrealized, lives cut short. Want a bigger impact? Take a quiet walk through a nearby graveyard and imagine all the people who were laid to rest before they were able to see their dreams come true. You may send yourself spiraling into the pit of despair, or you may run home—tears and all—to throw open your laptop and write like there’s no tomorrow, because maybe there’s not. There are no guarantees. Spend the time you have doing what you love.

4. Look at your kids if you have them. (If you don’t, look at someone else’s kids and pretend. Just don’t touch them, or you might get hauled off by the police.) Children learn to live life through observation. What do you want them to observe from you? The posture of a dejected quitter or a determined, (fairly) unshakable writer, who faces down the dark spots and pushes into the light?

3. Drink. Wine. Lots. Then write…just for fun. And email the results to me.

2. Eat. Sweets. Lots. Then when you’ve gained too much weight to sit comfortably in your desk chair and your blood pressure goes so high you must spend hours a day lying on your left side, you can quit writing, knowing it was an external conflict that drove you away from writing rather than an internal conflict that pretty much made you a heroine who’s too stupid to live (TSTL).

1. For crying out loud, just write.  Give yourself permission to write suckish stuff sometimes. Before every suck-filled writing session repeat after me: “I will write for thirty minutes as fast as I can. I will not let doubt slow me down. If it sucks, then it sucks. But like a clogged drain, I’m going to flush the crap that blocks the flow, and I’m going to write, because sucky or not, I…AM…A…WRITER.”

Advertisements

11 Responses to “Top 10 Tips for Overcoming the I Suck Funk”

  1. shaz Says:

    SUCKY…sucky….Damn right…I AM A WRRRRITER…..thanx for reminding us of that. Grt blog


  2. Thanks for the comment. I’m glad you like the post.

    E

  3. nicolehelm Says:

    Certainly you are not referring to me… 😉
    You know my favorite is the drain metaphor, and God knows the threat of housework will send me back to my computer in a flash!

  4. taristhread Says:

    Hard to type I’m laughing so hard!! THIS is my new favorite Elley post!! My husband is sitting here laughing because I made him read it too.

    Just wait until I start drinking and sending you e-mails, remember you asked for it!!


  5. […] week my CP wrote a great post about how to bust the “I Suck Funk” blues. My favorite piece of advice, of course, is to keep writing. Particularly the clogged drain […]

  6. Jeannie Says:

    Loved it!…laughing and spewing coffee…LOL!

  7. Samir Says:

    Awesome 🙂

  8. Francene Says:

    This is a corker of an entry! My fave piece of advice is no. 7

    “There’s nothing like real life to push you back into the imaginary world in your head.” So true!

    Happy 1st birthday!

    http://francenecarroll13.blogspot.com.au/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s