Hitting the Wall of Suck

You're writing along, feeling fine, everything's great and then suddenly BAM. There it is. The wall of suck. 

For me, I tend to hit this wall at around the 2/3 mark when I'm still far enough away from the beginning and the ending that I feel lost and like I don't know what I'm doing. It feels like I've been wandering through a desert with no problems for weeks then suddenly, I remember: I AM IN A DESERT AND GONNA DIE. Everything runs into a panic and I sit in paralyzed anxiety, too afraid to move forward or backwards. 

I'm a linear writer so I tend to follow my story along from beginning to end and once I'm muddling through the middle, I start slowing down and then hit the wall. Sometimes it feels like it's three miles high and made of glass shards that cut if I get too close, but it's clear enough that I can see through. I know what's on the other side but I'm afraid of breaking through to get to it. That's the wall of suck. 

What do you do when you hit it? 

The answer's easy, you push through that sharp, nasty bastard and keep going. Army crawl under it, fling yourself into it, or climb over it, but you've got to keep moving. If you stare too long, the wall only gets worse because your mind makes it worse. That wall is your fear of sucking, and the truth of the matter is your first draft probably does suck. It probably sucks a lot. And that's okay, and normal. No one (okay so a few magical writers) writes a perfect first draft and it's okay to not be perfect. Remember, the goal is to finish, not to write the most beautiful and grammatically perfect sentence the world has ever seen. 

The goal is to drag your battered, bruised, and bloody self across the finish line and scream that you did it. So, put on your helmet, buckle down and show that wall that nothing is going to stop you. 

Fight for your words

At almost every event I’ve spoken at or every time I’ve mentioned I’m a writer, someone comes up to me and says, ‘I’ve got a great idea for a book but I just don’t have the time to write.’ Well, you do have the time, you just have to make it.


I’ve written before about how books are written with time stolen from other people and it’s true. The truth is that you have to fight for your words. You have to fight for the time to write, it’s never just going to show up in a nice basket with a ‘free to a good home’ ribbon attached.


If you want to write that book that’s been floating around in your head then you need to pick up that (metaphorical please) sword and start cleaving away time for it. That might mean getting up earlier, going to bed later or maybe only going to the gym 5 days a week instead of 6. It might mean you don’t watch your usual TV/Netflix/Hulu before bed and instead you get your words down on page.


It might mean that you write during your lunch break at your day job or that you start taking the bus to work and write on your commute.


It means stepping back and taking a strategic look at your day and clearing time to write. The words won’t happen unless you make time for them to so don’t be afraid to fight for your right to write.


If it matters to you, find a way. 

Believe in Magic

I'm not a big believer in the idea of the muse. If I only wrote when I felt magically inspired, in the flow of writing, very little would ever happen. But that doesn't mean that I don't see the moments the muse shows her fickle butt up to the party. For me, the muse regularly shows up when I'm in the shower, or washing dishes. Something about my hands being covered in soap and water really makes the muse smack my brain with all of the great ideas. What an ass. 

I fully believe that writers need inspiration to keep going, to solve the problems that inevitably arise in stories. Maybe it's in the spark of an idea, or the sudden connection of two ideas to solve a problem.  So what can you do to coax some inspiration out? Well here are 5 little tips.

1. Stop forcing it. 

Sitting at the computer and demanding to be hit by the inspiration stick usually just leads to a lot of frustration and not a lot of production. Sit down (or stand or walk!) and get to work. Maybe inspiration shows up, maybe it doesn't but you've got work to do. 

2. Take time off

Work, work, work is a recipe for burn out and a whole lot of nope. Take time off from your work. Go outside, take a shower, wash dishes, do laundry, play a game, do something else. Give your subconscious time to stir the soup of ideas. 

3. Talk it out. 

Sometimes you've got to talk the little gremlins down. What I mean is, sometimes you need to take that plot problem out of your head and into the physical world. It doesn't matter if you're talking out the plot problem with your cat, dog, stuffed weasel, whatever. What matters is getting the words together to explain it. I'm amazed at the number of times simply speaking it out loud makes a solution suddenly click into place. 

4. Have fun. 

Go and do something you enjoy. Take a hike, a bubble bath, a nap. Do something that you enjoy, feed the muse some happiness. 

5. Remember you're more than your muse. 

So maybe your muse is MIA and you're feeling like crap. Your self worth is not tied up in your muse taking a day (or more) off. You're still amazing. Take some time to re-fill your creative well and that muse will be back. 

Magic happens in the mundane, you just have to pay attention enough to catch it.