Last week, I was on the verge of quitting the book I’ve been working on. I hyperventilated, panicked and thought about all the characters I would be leaving behind, the world that I’d be giving up on.
I’ll be honest. Since a few months, the book hasn’t been doing well. I had been struggling through a second draft, trying to get to know characters that refused to speak to me and scenes that I couldn’t put my heart into.
Instead of quitting, I decided to take a break.
Over the weekend, I met friends, went cycling to see the blooming spring, slept and had a wonderful time.
I also realised that it wasn’t the book that was bogging me down. It was my expectations from the work. I had been very ambitious with it – a new genre I’m working in. I had also bragged about this book to other people, so felt I was under pressure to deliver a certain kind of work.
The deeper I delved, the more I knew that I wasn’t in a bad relationship with the characters, but my expectations from them.
My ambitions, my desire to write a certain way, to even be a certain kind of a writer, held me back.
These were playing up constantly in my mind, increasing pressure and stress, and blocking natural creativity. I decided to quit the book, if I don’t stop being toxic to myself about it.
Surprisingly, the decision of quitting, if I can’t set my ambitions aside, set me free.
I was not panicked anymore. There was no one I wanted to deliver this book to. I knew I could quit anytime. Now, without expectations, I’m working on the book again. I’ve started to work on its third draft.
Maybe it’ll never be finished or published, but for the first time, since a few months, I’m enjoying the characters, listening to them, going through their lives and scenes with a delight.
And a week later, I have two awards to prove to myself that I need to love what I write.
The awards have given me confidence—much needed when you’re working silo—to continue to be true to my instincts. Write powerfully, emotionally and have fun in the art. Which is the message I would like to leave you all with today.
Even if you struggle, the upside might be just around the corner, so wait out the low periods, chuck out the voices in your head and write with your heart.