Friday, 26 November 2010


By Richard Jay Parker

A crisis of confidence is something most writers are familiar with. Projects - that we pour hours of time into, burn oil over and ponder even when we should be focussed on the more practical demands of life - can sometimes have a sneaky knack of appearing worthless in the wrong light.

Light is the operative word here as it's usually a certain time of day that it happens. It's like that moment when too much sunshine pours into a room and makes everything look a bit tired and in need of a spring clean.

Everyone has their low ebb moment not only during the course of creating an entire project but every day of that process. It obviously depends what your writing timetable is. I usually experience mine at about three in the afternoon. At that point, everything I've written looks a bit tired and in need of a spring clean - or a delete button.

Even though I don't want to, it's at this point that I take a break. As most writers know, there aren't ever enough hours in the day to achieve everything you want and taking yourself away from a project seems like time wasted. But it's worth it because nothing constructive can be achieved when you've stopped seeing the words for the trees.

I usually re-examine everything first thing in the morning - my best time - and often find my reservations aren't as harshly felt as my tired mind convinced me they were.

It doesn't always work. Often the work does need a kick in the pants but at least I have some new reserves of energy to do it.

So, at three today, I think I'll go for a walk and think of something besides my plot and characters. Yeah, right.

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  1. I know that feeling. Many a decent chapter has been deleted in such moments of self doubt. On the other hand many sub standard efforts have been recklessly e-mailed after a larger than usual glass of red in the afternoon. I sometimes wonder if there is such a state as equilibrium in a writers psyche.

  2. Yes, 3 o’clock is a terrible time for me as well, not just with the writing but with everything. I run out of energy, my appetite demands something unhealthy, and that couch seems as appealing as it did on Thanksgiving after copious amounts of turkey. Someone once told me that that crash, and the crisis of self-confidence that comes with, has something to do with the body’s biorhythms—not that I really know what those are of course, but it sounded credible!

    I agree though, perhaps a nice walk and a little distance from the project is just the thing. I’ll give that a try myself. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I know the feeling well! I try to keep all my scenes, regardless of how crappy they appear at first (or second, third) view, because I will always regret not having them later. And yes, usually if I'm feeling frustrated and doubting myself at those points, I also step away from the computer and go do something else. Sound advice!

  4. Thanks for your contribution, Anonymous. Oh yes - throw red wine into the mix and you are in trouble. Although some writers claim it engenders their best work...

    Hope you're recovered from that turkey, Ray. Only a few weeks before it's time to have another one for Christmas. Now that's a day I won't be writing...probably.

    Thanks for swinging by, Penrefe. You're right - always a good idea to back up earlier scenes - have regretted impetuous deletes in the past.