Pep Talk from Justina Ireland

photo of Justina Ireland

Writing sucks.

That’s likely something you’ve thought recently. Whether you’re chugging along making your daily word goal or you fell off of the wagon on day one (it happens!), you’re probably wondering whether all of this angst and doubt is worth it. After all, why should you write a book in the first place? You could watch Netflix instead.

But here’s the thing: you started this journey for a reason. Is it because you thought writing would make you rich and famous (if so, you should really revise that expectation, stat)? Is it because you had a story burning through your brain and putting pen to paper was the only way to find peace? Or is it because writing a book was one of those things you always wanted to do, and now here you are, finally making it happen.

These reasons, of course, do not make writing suck any less.

Sorry, folks.

Graphic illustration of an open book with the words of Justina Ireland scrawled across the pages: Writing a book is one of those things you always wanted to do, and now here you are, finally making it happen!

And that really is the secret to writing: it will always suck, and it will suck in different ways. Sometimes it will suck because a scene is finally coming together, only to then fall apart a few pages later. Sometimes it sucks because you realize your outline was too ambitious, too much, and you have to leave a few subplots on the side of the road. Or maybe it sucks because it’s a thing you’ve thought about for so long that your mental image doesn’t mesh with the reality of sitting in a chair and plinking away on the keys. And sometimes, more often than not, it will suck because you will stare your own mediocrity right in the face (or the screen) and you will have to reckon with the fact that maybe you just aren’t good enough to write this story yet.

All of these are reasons that you should just quit. Go on, close the computer, queue up the Netflix, and stream an entire season of a TV show you won’t remember in a month.


You could accept the pure simple truth of writing: it is work. And like all work, it sucks. The level of difficulty doesn’t mean that work isn’t worth it. It just means that you have to accept that, like all work, there will be good days and bad, and learning how to power through the bad is just as important as reveling in the good. So yes, it will suck. It will be hard. You will want to quit.

But the more you dig in, the harder you strive, the more you just let yourself work, putting forth all of the effort and discomfort it implies, the better you’ll be at it. That doesn’t mean it’ll ever feel any easier, but it does mean that you’ll have more to show for your efforts.



Now let’s get to work.

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Justina Ireland lives with her husband, kid, dog, and cats in Pennsylvania. She is the author of Vengeance Bound, Promise of Shadows, and Dread Nation, which is a New York Times bestseller and has received six starred reviews. Her most recent book is the middle grade novel Lando’s Luck, a Star Wars Story. You can visit her on Twitter as @justinaireland, on Instagram as @justinai, or at her website