Friday, March 11, 2011

The Writer's Paradox

Writers are crazy. There's no getting around the fact that (at times) we're completely neurotic, insecure, and borderline bat$#!%; crazy. I used to think that writing attracted unstable personalities, but now I'm pretty sure the Writer's Paradox is to blame.
You have to think you suck, otherwise you will.
When I started writing I thought I was a fairly sane person. I thought I was in control of my own emotions, at least as much as anyone is, and there was no way I would be as crazy as those writers on TV and in movies. Guess what? I was wrong.

Crazy Frog
This is what happens when you search for crazy on Flickr.

Over the course of writing and publishing a book, I go through stages of elation where I think, Woohoo, this is going to be the best book ever! (Note: This stage usually occurs before a single word has been written.) I go through meh stages where I think, The book is pretty crappy but I can fix it in revisions. (This is the most common stage.)

And finally I go through stages where I think, I'm a fraud who can't write, I'll never get this book under control, I'll never write anything as good as [fill in name of amazingly talented bestselling author here] and I'll never get another contract again!

This sounds crazy, right? Mood fluctuations, bi-polar schizophrenia, with Charlie Sheen (WINNING!) tendencies. Most definitely.

The sad thing is--and as writers we kind of just have to accept this as fact--we need that fear. We need to worry about writing the worst piece of dog poo ever to hit a page to protect ourselves from ever letting that happen. An actor needs stage fright to bring energy to their performance. A writer needs neurosis to maintain quality, to keep learning and improving and bettering their craft. The moment we start thinking we've got this thing figured out is the moment the writing goes downhill.

I used to think crazy people became writers, but now I know better.

Writing makes people crazy.



Kelsey said...

I'm going through this right now. Sigh.

Sharon S. said...

lol! Don't worry Tera. You have Tigress blood and Aphrodite DNA! You'll do just fine.

I write short heart-felt reviews of books over at goodreads all the time. But, I just became a guest reviewer at a book blog and suddenly I am blanking out, second guessing is awful! . I wouldn't survive as an author.

nymfaux said...

Tera, if it makes you feel better, you're one of my [fill in the blank] people! :)

It's so nice to hear that other people are crazy, too.--Except Charlie Sheen--(or have you seen Gary Busey on Celebrity Aprentice--I feel like there's not a good way for that to end)I hate seeing the destructive/sad--kind of ruin your life and scare people away--crazy-

At least you have stuff on paper to edit--My stuff on paper is minimal, but there's TONS of re-editing going on in my head.

Oh, and you have the advantage of ALREADY BEING an amazingly talented award winning author, with at least two more books under contract, and I'm wouldn't be surprised to find you hoarding some more contracts away somewhere... ;)

Rosalie Lario said...

You so perfectly described the stages of writing! I think writing and crazy go hand in hand. It takes a special person to throw all the voices in their head onto paper and expect someone might actually want to read it. But the neuroticism is actually a good thing. It's what makes that story readable. :-)

Colleen McEuen said...

Couldn't agree with you more, and neither can the voices in my head. lol