.I know how depressing it can be to write and write and write, and never get anywhere, never get published, or recognised. I know how draining it can be, this feeling that you’re getting nowhere, that you are constantly banging your head against a brick wall, and that horrible, insidious voice that whispers in your ear at 4am, telling you that perhaps you’re wrong, maybe you can’t write after all, and you should just give up before you embarrass yourself further.
There are ways to get over these moments of writer’s depression.
First of all, ignore the little 4am voice. It is scientifically proven that this is when the human body and spirit are at their lowest ebb, and if you happen to be awake and thinking at this time, you are bound by nature to have depressing thoughts. Roll over and go back to sleep – if you can’t sleep, listen to the radio.
Remember very few writers have it easy. Forget writers like Christopher Paolini, who have massive successes with their first novel when they are barely out of school. Think of J.K. Rowling- who wrote for years before coming up with Harry Potter, who had her first Harry Potter manuscript rejected, and who’s first novel had a very small print run, because no-one was sure it would sell. Think of Mary Wesley, who had her first novel published when she was 80. Think of Charlotte Bronte, who couldn’t sell her first novel (The Professor) and had Jane Eyre rejected four times before it sold (she, touchingly I feel, naively and frugally used the same wrapping paper each time she sent off her manuscript, merely crossing out the name of the last publisher she sent it to, and writing in the name of the new one). Think of Jane Austen, who had to pay a publisher to publish Northanger Abbey – and he still wouldn’t publish it! (This was before the success of Sense and Sensibility – Northanger Abbey was published after her death).
Or make a plan – sit down and plan out what you going to do – the publishers and magazines you will try, targets to set yourself – a plan of attack. Give yourself order and ambitions, instead of sinking into a morass of failure.
Publish something online, on a site where you can get feedback, like fictionpress.com. You can publish there, and get feedback in an hour (be prepared for bad feedback though). It’s always a boost to your ego, to read a stranger’s email telling you are wonderful.
And if all else fails – forget about the writing for a while – just a little while, no longer than a week, and enjoy yourself. Go out, go on holiday, slob on the sofa with all 7 days of 24 on DVD (wow, that’s an entire week!), spend three days in the cinema, go to the seaside and paddle whilst eating ice cream, go to a party in your best dress and drink champagne (my own plan for the evening) – just get out of your own head for a while, and relax. It’ll recharge your batteries, and you’ll come back happier, focused and ready to try again.
The dark thoughts and times can be very dark for us creative times, and the urge to give up can seem very tempting. But don’t. You’ll regret. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life. Okay, I stole that last line. But it applies as much to us and writing as it did for Ilsa and Victor.