the law of conservation of suck

I’ve had this post in my back pocket for a while.  Of course, I thought it sucked.  Now I feel better.  But I’m still going to post it.

I’ve been going through a tough time with writing/life lately.

My confidence is flagging. I’m not sure why, but it is, and I’ve been feeling down. I’m reluctant to say “depressed” as I think the word is used altogether too lightly and too much.  But down?  Feeling down is definitely accurate.

And then, I get impatient with myself.  I give myself a mental shake, an emotional jostle.

I know that my life is blessed. I know this deeply. I am fortunate almost beyond measure, for the time and place I have been born, for the condition of my life, for the home I share with my family, for my community of friends, for my daily ability to feel gratitude.

And yet.

I can’t fight my way out of feeling this way by telling myself I have no right to feel this way. But that is exactly what I’ve been trying to do. I’ve been beating myself up for having the audacity to be in a funk when there are so many people who have it so much worse than I do.

News flash: that doesn’t help. That doesn’t change the funk I’ve been in. I just feel worse about feeling bad.

I talked with Elizabeth about it, and she had some thoughts. Mostly about being authentic and acknowledging the feelings I have rather than fighting them. Things I know, and would say to a friend, but I couldn’t get out of my own way enough to generate some compassion for myself.

Elizabeth reminded me that I’m not wrong or bad for feeling down or miserable or weak. Those are simply the things I feel. Her words made sense.

Then she said something else that made me laugh out loud. And it might have been the most helpful piece of advice.

Elizabeth recently finished years of work on a nursing degree, complete with clinical and hospital rotations; she dealt with every body part and orifice you can imagine, she cleaned up every possible mess a human can make.

With a smile on her face.

She and her nursing colleagues came up with the Law of Conservation of Suck. It goes something like this:

If things suck now, and they have sucked for a while, then something better must be right around the corner.

The Law of Conservation of Suck states that there is a limited amount of suck in the world, and if you’ve had more than your share lately then you are due for less suck soon.


I might just have to wait it out.


Laini Taylor has an awesome post on suckage. It’s a good writing reminder.

My writing is going better, thank you.

(And I counted 18 times.  Because I’m highly suggestible.)


listening to: Vienna Teng, City Hall (i always sing out loud to this song)


  • I have to say hear, hear to The Law of Conservation of Suck. Going forth and sucking is part of the bravery of the first draft of the first novel, which is perhaps one of the most difficult things a person can willfully do. It can only get better after that. Even the most gut-wrenching revision cannot compare to drawing a story out of yourself for the first time, like a spider draws a web. I imagine there is pain in that, too. Be brave, Bridget!

  • Great analogy, Holly. I’ve always liked the symbolism of the spider and her web. Did you know that spiders cannot travel along the outside of the web? They must return to centre on one the spokes before heading out somewhere else. Good perspective for writers also 😉 Thank you for your encouraging words.

  • he he he.
    yea it isn’t recognized in physics yet, and newton never mentioned it… but the law of conservation of suck can feel like an important one to pay attention to, especially if you are in the middle of a big ‘ol batch of suck.

    love you

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