Writing through a rough patch

There are times when the words don’t come, and what words that do come make you cringe. You sit down and work, you reach your writing goals each day, but you hate every last bit of work you produce.

I’m in the midst of one of those rough patches. For the last week or so I’ve wanted to toss my work-in-progress in the trash. It’s not writer’s block — writer’s block is bullshit — it’s something else. It’s “this sucks, this story sucks, these words suck, why am I bothering with this?”

I hate that feeling.

I’ve mentioned a few times before that I’m wrapping up a readable draft of a dystopian science fiction novel. I’ve gone back and forth between hoping people find it thrilling and certain people will find it thrilling, but every once in a while a little voice tells me, “Eric, you’re delusional. This world is empty and unbelievable, the characters are paper thin, and your prose is as painful as your singing.”

I don’t think any of that is true (not consciously, at least), but when those rough patches arise — and I suspect they’re inevitable in all but the most in-love-with-themselves writers — they can be very disheartening.

For me, I find the only way to work through them is to, well, work through them. Just keep going. Keep writing. You can’t let them stop you from working. Take notes on passages or aspects of the story that strike you as particularly weak, then take an objective look at them later when you’re in a better frame of mind. Your concerns may have been well-founded. You might also have been a little nuts.

Because let’s face it, if you’ve put all that time and effort and blood and sweat into writing a novel that may never be read, you’re probably a little nuts to begin with.

So I’m writing through a rough patch. I’m about 2/3 done with the second draft of this novel. Entering the third act. When it’s complete, I’ll be asking a few people to read it and offer their (hopefully honest) critiques. And I’ll take it from there.

In the meantime, the fingers are on the keyboard no matter what … because stories don’t get written if all you do is stare at the screen trying to wish them into existence.


  1. cease ill

    Damn straight, Taft.

  2. cease ill

    So when the Black Sludge comes calling, remember: take a deep breath, grow tall. And don’t be afraid to look down. —J.M. DeMatteis 😀

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