Today, you suck.
Actually, today is one of those days that makes you feel like you don’t just suck right now. You have always sucked, and will always suck. Today is so sucky that it has sucked all joy out writing, all joy out of the thought of writing. It has sucked away your desire to continue, and your belief that any of this is worth the effort.
I’m here to tell you that it’s okay. I’m here to remind you that everyone goes through these days. All your favorite authors have had these days. Days when the words don’t appear, no matter how much you will them to. Days when they do come and they make you feel immediately nauseous, because they are unabashed garbage. Days when you want to slam your palms down on the keyboard because the incomprehensible stream of letters, numbers, and punctuation marks feel better than the steaming nonsense you’ve been spouting onto the screen all day.
And guess what? We’ve succeeded anyway. The book gets written. Because suckiness is a passing feeling. It is not an impassable bog, it is not a jail cell.
It feels like one today, to be certain. You pace from concrete wall to concrete wall, and time simply refuses to pass. No matter how much you may shake at the bars of your enclosure, today you will feel no release. Today you accomplish nothing but wasted time. The complaints you shout out at your jailors are all clichés. They lack the poignancy and subtlety you wish for. They come out sounding at odds with how they shaped themselves in your head.
Writing is like this. It puts you into timeouts, sticks you in a solitary room and makes you think about yourself and your abilities until you have no choice but find flaw in it all. But your bail will arrive.
If you’re lucky, your bail will arrive in the form of a temperamental lawyer who declares your enclosure an injustice. The lawyer will go on and on about your merits until all memories of this dark period of suckiness evaporate.
The door will swing open, and when you step foot outside this momentary jail cell you will remember everything you love about your story. You will remember how much you love the characters you’ve crafted, how much joy there is in crafting a setting, basing it loosely off a place you know so well and having the delectable freedom to change what you want. You’ll remember the nagging question that drives your story, some crucial exploration of life that brought you to the page in the first place. You’ll forget all about suckiness, forget about publication, forget about perfection. You’ll simply write. You will feel the joy of sentences. God, the lines that drive you to write. The way writing processes so much else in your life. The joy you find when you read back on something you write and find it to be good.
Hell, that lawyer that bails you out might do even more. That lawyer will undo all the suckiness of the past, and you will once again believe that you can do this. That you are an artist perfecting your craft, and every bump along the way is simply on the road to betterment. That lawyer will re-instill confidence in your very bones, and you will become absolutely certain that suckiness is behind you. You have overcome, and from now on, everything will be great.
Okay, that’s probably not how this plays out. Your freedom will simply arrive in the form of a sheepish bailiff saying, “You’ve done your time.” At which point you will sigh with relief, knowing the jail cell of suck is behind you.
Today is not your last day being sucky. But it is not your last day of inspiration either. You have not forgotten how to write. Despair will not color the rest of your days. Relax with that knowledge. Even if reading these words does not pull you out of the mire, the mire is nevertheless a temporary place. A place every writer you admire has gotten stuck in, and from which they’ve emerged triumphant. And you will too. So go ahead and suck today. It’s okay. We all have.