Writers, stop beating yourself up. Or, The Glacially Slow Speed of Progress

I’m doing it again.

I’m comparing myself with other writers, other artists, other makers, and getting increasingly frustrated with myself. She wrote her entire five book series in three years. Why are you so lame, and why has it been taking you four years to finish that first book? Unsurprisingly, all this negative self-talk does nothing to help me work any better or faster. All it really accomplishes is making me want to hide in my bed with some chocolate and ice cream and come out never.

I saw a Youtube video once that gave the advice to fail faster. The idea is that every success is preceded by failures— we a try a thing, and we fail. And then we correct our mistakes. And each time we get a little closer to doing it right, to our eventual success. By failing faster, we’re speeding the process of our success.

The pedantic, argumentative part of my mind says, “If I try to fail as fast as possible, I will inevitably start making intentional mistakes, which completely negates the idea of reaching success quickly. I’ll just be correcting mistakes I could have prevented by slowing down and being intentional.” The rest of me tells that part of myself to stop being such a picky bitch, because come on, Hope, you know what I/you/we mean.

You see why it’s sometimes hard to motivate myself? I end up having arguments with myself over the motivational material. Nevertheless, the writing has been progressing. It’s been progressing with glacial slowness, but it has been happening. And why is it that doing the work makes me more impatient than not doing the work? It shoves the actual, realistic speed of progress right up in my face and makes it impossible to fantasize about The Book being finished overnight.

Here’s to glacial slowness, as long as it is progress. Wish me luck and send scotch if you’re feeling kind.


Closing thoughts:

“We don’t grow continuously or smoothly or even noticeably at times, but stumblingly, glacially, or at a gallop, without meaning to, or after great effort. We grow because life is growth and we love life not only as an idea, but compulsively, anonymously, in every cell and membrane.”

-Diane Ackerman

(Here, if you want to listen to what I’m listening to.)

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