I'm a born pessimist — whenever things are going too well in my life, I get this overwhelming sense of dread. Because I just know that doom is right around the corner.
Obviously I'm not here to advocate pessimism, or we'll all be doomsayers and how annoying would that be?!
But sometimes, writers read motivational quotes, and rather than feel inspired, we feel cheated. For example, remember that saying, "If you can dream it, you can achieve it"? Yeah, right. Whoever said that probably didn't dream of making the New York Times bestseller list with their debut book.
So what if you're a pessimist like me? Or just having one of those seasons when the writing gig is going about as well as Alexander's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day? What if the motivational quotes just aren't doing it for you?
You're not the only permanent or temporary pessimist writer out there. Let's hear from some famous authors with their pessimistic — and yet somehow inspirational — observations about writing.
We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master. ~ Ernest Hemingway
No wonder I keep feeling like this should be easier than it is, and yet it isn't. We're always learning, or should be.
Writing is a delicious agony. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks
Sounds about right.
To write something, you have to risk making a fool of yourself. ~ Anne Rice
Oh great, the very thing I tried so desperately to avoid doing throughout adolescence and my dating years, now I'm supposed to embrace. Bring it on! Let me be a fool for the sake of the story.
Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. ~ Anne Lamott
Too often, we compare our first drafts to other authors' final products, and then feel awful because we don't measure up. But maybe it's okay to be terrible at the beginning, as long as you're willing to polish the story and the prose to a shine.
The easiest reading is damned hard writing. ~ Thomas Hood
Of course it is! Why should we be surprised? Dancer Fred Astaire once admitted: "I suppose I made it look easy, but gee whiz, did I work and worry." Creatives must recognize that requires intense effort to make something appear seamless.
A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. ~ Thomas Mann
True. Becoming a better writer makes it more likely that you'll recognize when your story isn't quite there. You know you can do better, and you will.
When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done. ~ Stephen King
Only Stephen King would immediately come up with the analogy of murdering children (I hope), but he's spot-on about how much it can hurt to edit. And yet, we must accept the pain to reach that next level, the level of penning a novel readers won't forget.
I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide. ~ Harper Lee
We can't take critique, rejections, and bad reviews too personally. Even if what you write is fantastic, someone won't like it. (Though I don't know who it was that didn't like To Kill a Mockingbird.)
The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business. ~ John Steinbeck
Good information to know going in. But hey, we can do a lot to make it more likely we'll win the race, and when our horse crosses the finish line first? Aaaah, a sweet, sweet victory!
What pessimistic quotes about writing actually inspire you to keep going?
Julie Glover is a pessimist by nature, but an optimist in practice! Because no wants to hang out with an Eeyore all day—not even Eeyore himself. (Although an overly cheery Tigger would get old quickly too...)
Julie writes cozy mysteries, young adult fiction, and supernatural suspense (under the pen name Jules Lynn). Her upcoming YA contemporary novel, SHARING HUNTER, finaled in the 2015 RWA® Golden Heart®, and her co-written Muse Island Series is available now, beginning with book one, Mark of the Gods.
You can visit her website here.