Moving Through Hopelessness and Impossibility, 4 Things Before Breakfast by Beth Barany
Beyond the hopelessness we may feel about what’s happening in the real world (and I feel it,) there is also the hopelessness at the impossibilities in our writing.
I’m faced with editing the next scene. It’s a mess. What was I thinking when I wrote the first draft? I don’t know. But the new reformed and revised story is different now, not too different, but different enough.
What this chapter was it is no longer. I’ve moved things around. What had happened in Chapter 23 was moved to happen sooner. I cut a subplot, added in a new one. Oh boy.
So what needs to happen next?
IDK, I don’t know… What’s a writer to do?
I feel frozen, flattened by the prospect getting my novel done. The massiveness of all the rest of the 10-plus chapters to revise jutting up in front of me like a sharp mountain range rising at the horizon.
You’ve heard this refrain. Maybe if you’ve even felt this way too,
I stare at this massive mess. It’s painful. This is why many people say they hate writing. But I don’t hate writing. I hate the pain of not knowing how to tackle the mess of a half-revised manuscript.
It’s uncomfortable, like cramps, like a stomach ache after eating too much rich food.
Is there an antacid I can take for the discomfort of not knowing how to fix the problems in my manuscript?
I could turn away from the book, to leave the work until another day or week or month. But I can’t.
I’ve fenced myself in — on purpose. I have a deadline. This book is on pre-order. (I chose this scenario, I remind myself.)
That is one way to force myself to deal with this discomfort, to make the hard decisions.
I have been here many times before. I know what has worked in the past. I know how to move forward.
Moving Through Hopelessness
Perhaps these 4 tips will help you move forward if you’re stuck in your editing or your writing, even before breakfast. (Though I need my coffee before I apply them.)
1. Feel: I feel the feelings, acknowledge what’s going on. I feel the despair, the hopelessness at the impossibility of completing this book.
2. I breathe. I am alive. I feel the earth, my body, the moment, the flow of the evanescence that flows through us, that we flow through. My heart. My gut. My limbs. My lungs. My breath. Always back to the breath.
3. I’m back. I am capable. I have strategies that have worked in the past.
One of the most powerful is to bring the feelings of the moment into the story, usually into the point of view character, as honestly and directly as I can.
Even if you’re working on your first book and don’t have strategies that have worked in this area of your life, you have accomplished difficult things in the past.
- Maybe you ran and completed a race.
- Maybe you finished a difficult degree,
- passed a hard test,
- gave birth,
- knit a sweater,
- raised a child,
- arrived at work on time every day for years…
You have something, or many somethings. I am certain.
4. Actions: Having just gone through what feels like hell editing the previous chapter, I know my main challenge in my story is about pacing and tension.
So I wonder if that is what is jamming me up with this next chapter.
I also know I want to put a direct confrontation between two characters next…
My imagination and creativity are churning over options… yes!
I feel like I can do this now — I can face this next chapter and address what it needs, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph.
I feel the pain still, but now it’s transmuted into the story, working for me, instead of destroying me.
Feelings and creativity are magic. Use them for good, harness them for your creative work.
Your turn. How do you handle feelings of hopelessness, the feelings that it’s impossible?
Comment below and let me know. I’d love to hear.
ABOUT BETH BARANY
An award-winning novelist, Beth Barany writes science fiction and fantasy for young adults and adults. Her first novel Henrietta The Dragon Slayer won Grand Prize in a California Indie Author contest.
Based in Oakland, California, with her husband, Ezra Barany, also a novelist, Beth has lived abroad three times — Quebec and twice in Paris, France — and speaks fluent French.
Known for creating rich world, tough and kick-ass heroines, and refreshing romances, Beth creates cinematic stories to empower readers to be the heroes of their own lives.
When she’s not penning rip roaring reads, Beth runs an online school for fiction writers, speaks at conferences and international cultural centers, most recently in Saudi Arabia, and enjoys her many dragon figurines sprinkled throughout her house.
For freebies, excerpts, and more about her books, go to Beth’s site: author.bethbarany.com.