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Confessions from a Weary Writer

By Aapo Haapanen on Flickr’s CC

If my life were a reality show, this would be the part where I’d sit alone in a darkened room—just me and the camera. I’d speak in hushed, urgent tones. This is where I’d spill my guts and tell you my deepest darkest fears.

Confession 1: My writing is at a low point, and I am in a flat panic

I miss the feeling of being lost in my writing, of being in the zone—I haven’t felt like that in a while. I wake up every morning with an empty feeling inside, longing to feel lost in a story like I used to. Some mornings I feel so bad about it, I want to cry. I shuffle downstairs, make coffee, and look at my writing projects, jumping from project to project. I want to write. I do write. But not with excitement or passion. And I want that feeling back.

Confession 2: I feel like a fraud

I have one self-published novel. I’ve written five others, eight if you count the three middle grade novels I wrote in another life, nine if you count the thing I wrote when I was right out of college. “I’m a writer,” I tell people. But the truth is I don’t feel like that myself. I feel like I’m not good enough. Imposter syndrome is alive and well and lives deep within my heart and mind. I fear my ideas are trite and clichéd (I know this is true for at least some of my ideas because an agent told me so at a conference once). I’m afraid I can’t really write anything that anyone would want to read.

Confession 3: I’m afraid I’ll never be (traditionally) published

The query process is long and demoralizing—I’ve queried three novels unsuccessfully—and I’ve just about decided to put the only novel I am querying in the drawer (I’m waiting to hear from one last agent; I’ve queried over one hundred). I was represented once (the novel never sold), I’ve had a near miss with two R&R’s, and I was offered representation another time but turned it down (our visions for my novel were miles apart). The positive in this (if I must find one), is that now it’s a lot easier. I have done what experts suggest: I don’t think about it after I send a query. Still, I’m afraid I’ll never again be offered representation. Worse than that, I’m afraid I’ll never be traditionally published.

Confession 4: Writing this post was damn hard

It was hard laying it out. All my fears. Admitting that not only do I feel like I’m failing at writing but also at the querying process and at getting published. I want to be brave, but I’m not always. I’m rarely honest about how I feel with my writing accountability partners or even with my husband or kids about how worried I am all the time about how much I want this. I’m rarely honest with myself. The truth is I wrote the first version of this post a while ago, but I was afraid to publish it—I’m afraid other writers will realize I really am a fraud. Or maybe I’m afraid I’ll jinx myself.

Confession 5: I’ll never give up

It’s another writing day. Early morning. The time I’d usually be writing. My final confession is that even when I can’t write very much or very well or don’t have the passion I used to, I miss it and can’t stop thinking about it. I’ve tried. I’ve even considered quitting, most recently during this last querying cycle. I thought about giving up completely.

But the truth is I don’t want to.

Instead I turn inwardly for encouragement and solace, for ways to combat my fears and inabilities, and here’s what I’ve come up with:

  1. Be kind to myself. Practice mindfulness. Let the fear wash through me and let it go.
  2. Spend lots of time thinking and acknowledge that thinking about writing is part of the writing process. Embrace all new ideas.
  3. Open myself up to my positive writer friends. Allow myself to dismiss my own negative thoughts and also the negativity of others.
  4. Step away from social media. It exposes me to too much negativity. But if I do stumble and fall back into it, don’t be too hard on myself.
  5. Write. Write. Write.

Shut off the camera. Cut to real life.

So. Tell me. What’s your deepest darkest fear? And what are you going to do about it? The camera’s rolling.

About Julia Munroe Martin [1]

Julia Munroe Martin [2] (@jmunroemartin [3]) is a writer and blogger who lives in an old house in southern coastal Maine. Julia's other passion is photography, and if she's not writing at the dining room table or a local coffeeshop, you'll likely find her on the beach or dock taking photos. Julia writes The Empty Nest Can Be Murder mystery series as J. M. Maison.