On Being Stuck in a Loop and Being Unable to Reach your Writing Goals

CommuterLit editor & publisher

Copyright is held by the author.

IN ONE writing group, which I’ve been participating in for over a decade, I’ve encountered talented writers who keep writing pieces that in my view are on the same level as they were writing years ago. These pieces have merit, but are stuck in first gear, and are often abandoned like wrecks at the side of the road. And I would include on many occasions myself among these writers. Despite our stated ambitions otherwise, often we are unable to bring these pieces of writing to full fruition.

But why? The answer is going to be different for every writer, but this is what I have observed in myself and some of my fellow participants.

We are too comfortable failing and too scared to take our writing seriously by putting it to the test in front of a bigger audience. In the writing group, I will get accolades for “a great start for a story that has great potential.” And somehow that little validation is enough — why risk failure and rejection by actually finishing the piece and sending it off into the brutal world to be subjected to the fickle tastes of editors, publishers and the public? So much better for these stories to remain as “great potentials,” which I will one day get around to finishing when life stops intervening.

In the same vein, I know I should be writing every single day, but that would mean I would have no excuse for not finishing stuff. So much better to think of yourself as a talented dabbler, who alas, because she was out saving the world, could not fulfill her potential. Because if your work gets rejected by the public, how do you accept that and change your self-image, when you have invested so many years in becoming the next literary star? Or worse still, if your writing goes on to great public and critical acclaim, what do you do then? Oh, it’s much safer to be perpetually on the cusp of success.

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