TMI: The More I Learn about Craft, the Less I Know

I’m sure I’m not the only writer in the world to get overwhelmed by the millions of little things we have to think about in every single sentence in our novel. Every time I feel like I’m getting a handle on this writing stuff, I learn something new and that gets added to the list of things to check for in my manuscript.

Don’t get me wrong—most of the time this constant learning curve is what I love about the writing craft. You never do stop learning, and most of the time I love that. I also usually love the challenge of trying to get to that next level with your writing, or making this novel better than the last. Most of the time I can’t wait to dive in and get started.

Most of the time.

Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit defeated by the whole thing. Perhaps it’s midwinter blues, or just the exhaustion that comes with being a 40-something mom-of-a-toddler who hasn’t had eight hours of sleep at night in about three years. Whatever it is, I have felt less like a mountain climber and more like one who has been caught in an avalanche.

I will bet every writer has felt this way at some point in their career. In fact, I found this eloquent and encouraging post by Stephen Parolini that addresses this very feeling.

I have been taking workshops, and what I have been learning has been fascinating. So many nuanced techniques to use in my writing, the mechanics of which I am still learning. So many details to track while I write. There are times lately where I feel like I will have to revise my manuscript a hundred times just so I can make sure all those details are in order. Which in turn makes me feel like I will never finish said manuscript. Which is a little depressing.


So much to do, so much I WANT to do with my manuscript, and so little time. Part of my feeling of eternal revision is that my writing time is incredibly limited due to my toddler’s demands on my time. So all these millions (okay, thousands) of things I want to track and check and try with my manuscript seem to stretch before me in a stream with no end.

It’s enough to paralyze me.

But, as whenever I get overwhelmed in other areas of life, I know that the only way to the end is through. In theory, giving up is an option, of course. But not in my world. Some would say I am stubborn, but I prefer to consider myself persistent.

So to get through this funk, I will work on one thing at a time. And if that means doing a hundred passes on my manuscript so I can give everything the attention I need, I will do it. I know, too, that the more I work on these skills, the more ingrained they will become. As they become second nature, they will show up in my manuscripts without my having to think so hard or revise so much.

In a word, my plan to get through this funk is to write. How do you get through your funks?

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