I started writing a book in November 2018, as I usually do when November comes around. And per usual, December thundered in and the glorious piece of fiction that was my novel-in-progress suddenly looked anything but glorious.
The all-too-familiar thoughts came flooding back to me as I returned to the incomplete book after a few weeks off and began rereading what I’d written over those 30 hectic, fiction-filled days. Thoughts like:
Wow. This kind of sucks.
Like … this story isn’t actually perfect?
And I’m not having as much fun as I was in the beginning.
I still love my book, but wow, this relationship is going to take … work.
In relationships they call this the Honeymoon Phase. Everything is bright and fun and seemingly effortless. But that phase always comes to a close, almost as if you wake up one morning and realize, “Oh, hah. My relationship isn’t perfect and neither am I.”
The same thing, at least in my professional experience, happens in writing. You first start a project and it’s GREAT! Until eventually it … isn’t.
But … what do you do when the Honeymoon Phase wears off? When what you’re working on suddenly isn’t as sparkly and inviting as it used to be? When you discover that sticking with something for the long-term requires you to move deeper into it instead of further away?
You keep moving forward. One step at a time.
You press on, knowing that it’s not always going to be pretty or fun, easy or rewarding. Knowing there are days you’re going to want to close that document, pick up everything and run.
Knowing you can’t walk away, that the struggle will be worth it even if it feels like it’s tearing you apart.
Right now, it might feel like quitting is the only way to make you feel better about this. But don’t be too quick to turn away when things get tough.
Because there will also be moments when things are good. You’ll write a few pages and walk away feeling like everything is OK again. You’ll realize that the plot hole you were afraid you wouldn’t be able to fix actually has a solution that just might work.
Writing, working on any creative project, is never all good and all bad. It is always a mix of simple times and complex moments, happy pages and very dark chapters. This is how it goes. Sometimes you enjoy it. Sometimes you don’t. But deep down, you still love it. You still want it to succeed. You’ve come this far. Why quit now?
When the Honeymoon Phase ends, take things one word at a time. Some days, that will be all you can do. And on those days, it will be enough.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.