|Photo courtesy ralaenin|
There are several things which you can do but the first thing is to figure out why it is that you're feeling frustrated. Until you've done this, you're going to have a really hard time resolving anything because you won't know what it is that you're trying to fix. In my case, I think it's primarily that I'm working right now with story lengths that I don't feel comfortable with. I've always written short stories and my current WIPs are all things that I project to be longer works. So, I'm trying to deal with using some different techniques and I'm also not getting the "buzz" that I've gotten on a regular basis in the past from finishing a short story. This has left me with a sort of writerly malaise. For you, it could be a similar problem such as writing in an unfamiliar genre or it could be something totally different such as some painful feedback on your writing which you've gotten recently or even matters not directly related to writing like stress in your personal life. But until you know what is driving your frustration, you're likely to have trouble fixing it.
Once you've determined why you're frustrated, the next step is to have an action plan of some kind. Let's say that the problem was that you were writing in an unfamiliar genre. In that case, your plan might involve doing some additional reading in that genre and finding a couple of fellow writers who specialize in that genre to look at your work and give you feedback. If your frustration stemmed from something different, like feeling that you didn't have enough time to write then you might want to review time management tips like the ones I posted last week. For my specific issue, I plan to discuss longer-length fiction with a couple of writing friends that I know have worked at that length. I'm also (as per my goals for the month) starting work on one short story with the hopes of finishing it this week and getting that short-term "buzz."
After you've put together a plan you need to put that plan in place. All the planning in the world doesn't do you any good if you make the plan and then don't follow through. This is also somewhere that talking to fellow writers -- even if that's not explicitly part of your action plan -- can be helpful, both in terms of some commiseration and possibly getting additional ideas on how to approach the problem you're facing. Having the support community of other writers on blogs and Twitter has been tremendously helpful to me these last couple months. Without it, I suspect I could have already reached a point of terminal frustration with my writing and wandered off into one of my writing dead zones.
Even after you've done all this, you could still end up feeling frustrated. What should you do if the steps above haven't worked? I would suggest two things. First, consider that you might have misdiagnosed the problem and give some more thought to how you are feeling. If you're not dealing with the correct issue (or what's only a secondary issue) then you could still be feeling badly about your work. Second, if you think that you've diagnosed the issue correctly, that you had a good plan, that you executed that plan and you're still frustrated maybe it's time to try shaking up your writing routine somehow. You could do that in several ways, such as trying to write a different genre, at a different length, etc. Obviously, if you're already feeling frustrated about having shaken up your routine in some way then maybe you want to find a way to go back to your comfort zone while also doing something new. Let's say you normally write darkly-themed Private Investigator novels but you're working on a historical novel and feeling frustrated by it. Maybe going back to the mystery genre and writing something short would do the trick. You could even go for a comical caper story if you had an idea for one.
Above all, remember that the way to be a writer is to write. Frustration can make that awfully hard some days but if you want to succeed you'll need to stick with it and not let the frustration get you down and keep you from your dreams!