The other day, I was discussing work patterns with some fellow writers. I’d been feeling particularly frustrated with my revisions, going through an “I-will-never-make-this-book-good-enough” phase, when I realized I’ve been here before. I don’t mean “here” on any particular project; I mean “here” in my attitude toward my writing career. My self-doubt had extended beyond my WIP to encompass all future projects.
But when a friend mentioned she always drafts her novels in certain months, I realized I have a similar cycle. I’m always struggling with self-doubt in January, always revising in the fall, and always drafting in April. Last year I’d planed to revise a book in April and ended up writing a new one — one I consider my best work to date (after months of revisions, of course). I tend to beat myself up when I’m not as productive as I feel I should be, and recognizing that my writing follows a pattern has helped me feel better about my recent less-than-stellar progress. If you’re like me, think about what kinds of patterns your writing falls into. Do you always find yourself writing something new in June? Revising in November? Querying in March? Knowing what your writing cycle looks like may help you get through those tough times.
I’m not saying “January isn’t my best month” is an excuse not to write. I’m saying, “It’s okay for me to have lower word counts in January, because it’s a slow month for me and I know I’ll make up for it in April.” I still sit down with a notebook or my laptop every day, turning to prompts when I feel stuck with revisions. But now, instead of fearing I’ll never write anything good again, I’m looking forward to April.
Does your writing go through cycles? How do you get through the slower months?