I once, in a fit of "wisdom*," said that a story wasn't done until you had hated it so long that you came out the other side and liked it again. That's kind of a silly thing to say because, if you really hate what you're writing, you should probably reconsider writing it. But it happens to touch on something that I—like many authors, or so I have been made to understand—deal with a lot: Getting in your own damn way.
I can't speak for anyone else (It would be cool if I could, but I've always tried to maintain that this site is about an individual's process rather than those of all writers), but I get in my own way a lot. I get lazy. I get busy. I get preoccupied. I dislike my work—be it a word choice, a sentence, a chapter, or a character or plot-point—and even if that's only for a moment it's enough to get me thinking and excited about another project. And I think a lot of writers are like this, too. Or, god, at least I hope they are.
Otherwise, I'm just all screwed up.
Self-loathing is just part of my process at this point. I get to a certain part and I start to dislike what I'm doing, so I strive to make it better. The circumstances under which I start to hate the work—and the ways in which I might respond to that—change with the project, so it's hard to really talk about getting through this stage of writing (I suppose that you might just want to go back and look at the last couple months of posts for the most recent example) but it's something that does happen and almost always gets resolved favorably.
I wonder about the "why" sometimes, though. I mean, I don't like hating my work or torturing myself. I'm just not into that. But this is something that seems to plague a lot of writers—especially when they're just starting out—and it's the kind of thing that does make you wonder. We're the sort of people who are so confident in our ability to create and present stories, characters, the whole lot...That we will gladly spend time and money trying to sell our work for public consumption.
That takes a lot of faith. Maybe a fair stretch of ego. Those ain't exactly doubtin' tendencies. So why?
I think that some of it does have to do with the fact that we're all such strivers. We're looking to get out there and be noticed, and on some level we are terrified that we aren't good enough. Deep down we know that there are thousands of people out there just like us and they're going to be those chosen for publication, so why bother?
And that's just how it starts. Before too long, it becomes, "Oh, well why should I write today when I can just read this book by this author I like and will never be as good as?" Then it's, "Ah, man, why should I write or read when there are video games/TV/movies?"
And then finally it's, "Crap, dude. I ain't even gonna get out of bed."
And that's the moment when you DIE. ALONE AND UNLOVED AND UNPUBLISHED.
I...I might be projecting here. Also: Exaggerating. But, yeah, that's basically what I'm up against every time I try to assemble some work. And I've got to relearn how to cope with it every time. It's more than a little crazy, guys. Or at least it feels that way.
But, like I said, it's part of the process at this point. Just another obstacle that I put in my own way every once in a while so I can knock it the hell over. I'm not looking for sympathy or commiseration (but if you're a creative and you deal with similar issues, why not share it in the comments, eh?), just trying to get the rambling craziness of this part of things out on paper.
After all, isn't that part of what this blog is about?
* "Wisdom" is only maybe code for "drunkenness." I don't have any recollection of how or why I said this—just that I did. And I know that I said it because I wrote it down and then made up a twitter account based on it. I was in college, though, so I was probably trying to sound clever and artistic and impress a girl. I don't know. So, you know what? Come up with your own scenario to amuse yourself.