The ‘I Hate My Story’ Syndrome

I’ve got a general theme this week – first my stupid process and now I’m hating my stupid story. First draft blues in other words. I should know by now that at a certain point in the first draft – usually about 3/4s of the way through – I start to doubt everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. The characters, the conflict, the plot. Everything sucks. Sucks in a ‘I can’t stand this stupid thing, what’s the point even writing it?’ way.

I don’t know why this happens but without fail it happens to every single story.

And I’m at that point now with the WIP. It feels like there’s vital bits of conflict still to put in and I’m at 35k already. Vital bits of backstory. Conversations the hero and heroine still haven’t had. I’m worried that the character arcs won’t be clear enough. Have I put in enough ‘romance’. Are the motivations clear. Does my plot actually work….

Basically it just sucks. Inevitably, once I’ve finished, I read back over it and I realise it’s actually not as bad as all that but having to go through this particular doubting process is SUCH a drag. It’s at times like this where I wish I was a first-time right kind of writer. Where your first draft, with a once over lightly edit, is pretty much the finished product. But I’m not, I’m a ‘spew all your words down first, then edit the crap out of it later’ kind of writer. And right now I’m thinking that there’s way too much crap to edit out.

Maybe it’s just the mood I’m in. Maybe my story really actually does suck bigtime. Maybe I need to bin the whole thing and start again.

So does anyone else have this syndrome? What do you do to keep yourself writing? Any hot tips???

17 thoughts on “The ‘I Hate My Story’ Syndrome”

  1. I do this. I actually would like it to happen at about the 3/4 mark. I think it happens every couple chapters for me. Stupid doubt-gremblins. (Yes, gremBlins. I have a stupid stuffy nose!)

  2. I have this syndrome too. Only when I’m halfway through a wip, I forget I felt this exact same way with the last and I convince myself it would be FAR better for the world if I just gave up now. Somehow I push past it and when I look back it’s usually not QUITE as terrible as I’d imagined.

    Saying that, I think the book I’m currently rewriting will need a lot of editing in depth and conflict because I’ve been discovering as I go along. I’m trying to learn that this is NOT a bad thing and all (well most) mss need to be rewritten 🙂

  3. I think all writers go through this. Unfortunately mine strikes willy nilly (hee hee hee I said ‘willy’ *ahem*) I can be at the beginning, a third way through, half way, just past half way – well you get the idea.

    My tip? Go and print off some of the fabulously supportive things your friends have said about you (comments on your last – and dare I say this year’s – NV entry spring to mind) and if you can’t beleive in yourself for a little while, then trust what other people have to say.

    Sixty million* people can’t be wrong!

    *sixty million is an esitmate only and should not be taken as a factual number

  4. Doubts suck. It all sucks. But i will bet your story doesn’t.
    Am hoping that knowing this happens is a help.
    And choc. And a stiff drink…

  5. Amalie – *shoots gremblins* I get kind of excited for the first three chapters, concerned for the next three, then outright depressed after that. Maybe I should just shoot my story instead. 🙂

    Lacey – Yes, chocolate! Stat! I know re writers but…well…you haven’t seen it. It’s not pretty!

    Rach – Exactly! I always forget I feel this way too. Well, I’m discovering as well, which is why I always write such dirty drafts. Sigh.

    Elissa – Lol! Ack re the chapter. Yes, I guess that’s something eh? (though I haven’t checked since I posted it) Roll on 60,000,000!

    Bec – sadly I think the story does. I’m hoping I’m wrong. In the meantime a stiff drink will do nicely. 🙂

  6. Jackie I’m at the exact same stage in the book. But I’ve pushed myself out of this syndrome. Now I think of it as an opportunity. I’ve already scribbled notes on my manuscript saying “go deeper”, “Put in missing conversation” and the almighty “Why?”
    I think it keeps me on track and makes me realise what I’ve still to develop. And Lacey’s right – chocolate helps x

  7. Scarlet – yep, my WIP is full of stuff like that too. I need to finish the damn thing first before I start fiddling otherwise I’ll NEVER finish it. *goes in search of chocolate*

  8. Ah Jackie, don’t feel alone. I’m a 3/4 girl myself. Always have doubts three quarters of the way through (ask Bec) Think the book stinks, my characters are cliched, my story is boring … the usual nightmare. Has that changed since getting the Call? Nope. Just part of a writer’s makeup I think. And if we didn;t think that, we wouldn’t strive to re-work, edit, revise etc to make our stories sparkle.
    Great post!

  9. Helen – ah, a woman after my own heart! Glad to hear I’m not alone in this (not that I really thought I was mind) and it strikes even the best of us (schadenfreude? Moi). Yep, boring, dull, cliched. The works. I really am beginning to think that editing is my favourite part of the process.

  10. Trust me, you’re not alone! My tip, or process I guess, is to write one or two later scenes (I’ve been known to write the HEA scene even before starting Chap 1, ahem…) then join them up later.

    The urge (or pressure, lol) to get to the later scene helps keep me focused. Also, if I can picture exactly where they h&h will end up, I can, albeit slowly and painfully, connect the dots and slog through the general crappiness of first drafts. Keep going, hon. You can do it!

  11. Maya – hey! Yeah, I tried that. But you know what happened? I found I was trying to make the story join up to the scene I’d written, which was me again dictating how the story would go. Sigh. No, my only way through is to keeping writing through the crappy bit and eventually find the good bits again.
    And thanks for the faith m’dear. 🙂

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