The Writer and Frustration

Has it been a day for you? Banging your head against the wall?  Oh well. Take heart. It comes with the territory.  And it isn’t all bad. Here’s a plan for managing frustration:

1. Frustration can be a prelude to a creative breakthrough. There will be times when you’ll feel you’ve had enough, and so you’ll throw down your pen in disgust, and storm off—beaten, vulnerable, and open. But in this unguarded state, your mind not at all on your work, pieces of your puzzle can rearrange. Something shifts—not magic; you’ve earned it—and the possibilities that open may be startling.

2. Frustration can be an opportunity to study what holds you up as a writer, and fix it. Take a look at what triggers it. Consider your goals. Assess your expectations. Discern your patterns, how you deal, what works, what doesn’t. And then take what you learn, and like the completely neutral and emotionless GPS, recalculate.

3. No point in wasting all that angst—take some character notes. What does it feel like to try your hardest and come up empty, over and over? Does it sit in your stomach? Any dialogue bits worth noting? Any gestures, any curses?  

4. Some writers believe that the battle alone makes you the best writer you can be. And since being the best writer possible is the goal, there’s only one thing to do for it: embrace the battle.

5. Finally, if you’re frustrated enough, it’s likely that you will contemplate risk differently. Maybe, you are even willing to risk everything. Now, that’s as liberating as it is terrifying, but with nothing to lose, great things can happen.

So, grunt along, as you must. Go on, slog through oatmeal. This is not the part of the job anyone loves. But it can be managed. It can be made to work for you. And sometimes, brilliantly.

Comments welcome and edited to include first names only, and website, if provided; never your email. Photo credits: frustrated guy by Sybren A. Stuvel ; frustrated gal source unknown.