The problem with writing is that it’s wholly subjective. Qualitative. No hard data.
Where we can do quantitative analysis, we can make reasonable judgments even when our emotions aren’t in alignment. “I felt great about this today, but we actually had only a 70% success rate.” Or, “Oh, man, today has been a total downer and I hated this session, but we nailed it with a 90% success ratio.”
That’s very nice for behavior analysis and free throws. Not so useful with writing.
I’ve been working hardcore on some major revisions for last few months, and within the space of a couple of days I got three sets of great feedback from fresh readers. Excellent. I was just about ready to send it back on its way. But I decided to wait for the last couple of readers to get back to me. And….
Crud, I think I should have sent this manuscript last week. I've lost my feel-good after a frustrating few days. Need my groove! #AmWriting
— Laura VAB (@Laura_VAB) June 10, 2013
No, I didn’t get bad feedback from the last two; I haven’t heard anything from them, in fact. I just had a frustrating few days, and so when I looked at the project again, I was emotionally drained already. And all that happy confidence was gone; now it’s back to “this manuscript is poo.”
And because a writer can’t really evaluate writing in any other way than subjective, this is something of a handicap.
My mother, a magazine freelancer, kept this strip taped over her writing desk for years. It’s, um, not that far from the truth. There is a reason for the stereotype of the drinking writer…. Unfortunately, I don’t drink, so I have to work out my neuroses in other ways.
So how does one cope with frustration and self-loathing, if one doesn’t really drink? One consumes a lot of chocolate. And one procrastinates a lot. Such as by writing ridiculously self-indulgent, wallowing blog posts. ;-)
Now, back to work!
Also published on Medium.