I do not know whether I shall make progress; but I should prefer to lack success rather than to lack faith. Once again, Seneca hits the nail on its head. My writing mornings have become more and more torture sessions after the almost euphoric beginning. I write and write, one sentence after another, and I write almost anything, no matter how bad or irrelevant to the topic, just to record something in the log and say, See, I’ve written that much today. But do I believe in what I’m writing? Not anymore. I’m losing faith, and that’s about the worst. In survival situations, mental strength is the difference between who dies and who lives; in writing, between who finishes a book and who doesn’t.
I finish the daily quota and go for a walk, unsatisfied by the day’s production. A jumble of words, a bright spark here and there … how can all this become a book? How could I think I could write? But isn’t every author saying that you have to write, no matter how bad, in order to learn how to write? You’ll suck at first, they say, and you’ll continue sucking for a while; you have to make your peace with that. But with every word scribbled down in anguish, with every sentence excavated from the depths of your creative mine, with every doubt encountered but dismissed on the way – you learn.
That is, you learn if you have faith and keep at it long enough to notice your progress. That’s the difference between those who finish a book and those who don’t. Learning how to write means learning how to live with inadequacy and doubt and how to keep going despite your mind screaming in protest. “What’s the use?” that traitor would say, “You call that writing? You’re lucky your life doesn’t depend on it.” You hear it scream, yet you continue, you endure it and write another sentence, and another one, and another one.
“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it”; Picasso’s words comfort me. Have faith and keep going. Never stop working; never lose faith. You’ll make it.
- How to Write a Book
- How to Do Research for a Non-Fiction Book
- How to Build a Research Database for a Non-Fiction Book
- How to Create a Project Plan for Writing a Non-Fiction Book
- You’ll Always Have More Ideas Than Time
- A Few Steps Further Down the Road
- Art is Warfare: A Status Report
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