Today I experienced my first real feeling of self doubt regarding my writing. Sure, I’ve felt it before. Felt as though I’m not good enough to do this, but still I plowed on because I can always fix it later, right? But today I read an amazing post at Fantasy Faction giving the advice: “show don’t tell” (read it if you’re getting into writing). It gave some fantastic writing tips and feeling spurred on I loaded up my epic fantasy in Scrivener, went back to the first line and how I could possibly change it to make it flow a lot better using this “show don’t tell” rule and whichever way I look at it, I just draw a blank. Self doubt. I’m not good enough to be a writer.
But never fear, I’m not giving up in the face of self doubt. Writing is my dream and I have too many stories to tell. I need to write them. I need them to be read. Even if only a handful of people read and enjoy them, I’ll have completed my life’s dream.
I’ve just got to take a new approach. See, all along I’ve been blogging to keep myself writing but I’ve come to realise how very different fiction writing and blog writing really is. When I blog, I talk to my readers as though I’m sending an email. Right now, this here, this is me emailing all of you who actually read this blog. Cool huh? But when I write… basically I just haven’t got the hang of it yet. I just try to write down my story even if I struggle with wording because I want to see it whole and complete and figure the rewrites will fix it.
So my new approach? I’m putting my epic fantasy aside. I’m not ready to write something so ambitious yet, and as such I’m picking up my manuscript from last year’s NaNoWriMo win – the so called “dark fairy tale” which is more like a young adult paranormal romance fairy tale. It’s a complete story but it desperately needs a rewrite and some fleshing out – what better way to practise and improve than by picking up a story I have previously put my heart and soul into and seeing where I can improve? And most of all, of course: practising my fiction writing.
How do you pull yourself through the self doubt? This time I’m taking the “it happens, keep going” approach but we can’t always be lucky enough to see it that way.
I’m struggling to write, but it’s not writer’s block. Actually, in my googling to rid myself of this stupid “I can’t write” disposition, I read somebody say that there’s no such thing as writer’s block and they have a point but that’s just a small aside.
See.. I know precisely what I want to write. When I’m sat writing I’ll think, “Well okay, how does X react to this? What might happen next? What obstacles can I throw into their paths?” And it’s quite easy to keep going this way. I know that right now, my characters don’t know each other but they are severely pissed at each other.. or.. one is pissed, the other is afraid. They’re going to sit down and finally talk to each other, find out enough about each other to trust each other on the journey they’re about to undertake together, and explain why they’ll be taking it together, but the words just won’t come! It’s not even a confidence thing. I read back what I’d already written and sure it needs a little spring cleaning but it’s not bad. So why can’t I write? Why do I sit down, manage a couple hundred words, and then find myself unable to continue?
I asked you guys on Twitter how to overcome this and you had some absolutely great tips which I absolutely have to post below, but you see.. I don’t need something different, I need the motivation to plow on. Perhaps it’s my depression. So how do I go about kicking depression in the shins, giving it the middle finger, and getting on with something I’m passionate about? I’m guessing the only answers are “try to write anyway” and “take a break and come back later”, but if there’s any advice, I’ll take it.
Anyway, some tips for folk who feel they’ve come to a road block in their writing and might find these tips useful!
Every writer I know has trouble writing. –Joseph Heller
I spent a large part of day one trying to convince myself to write. I’d woken up with a headache and I was growing more and more achey and my novel was staring me in the face, practically daring me to write it and the second I started it’d pull away from me, mocking. “Haha, can’t catch me!” I was a bit tired, you see. Every now and then I’d start stressing over it. “Oh but I need to write! I’ll fall behind on NaNoWriMo and I want to hit 3k words today.” I just happened to be staring at Scrivener, willing myself to plonk some words down when Dan reminded me that I didn’t need to hit 50k by the end of the month. That I am doing NaNoWriMo for fun and whatever I do write is a bonus so there’s really no need to panic over not writing lots of words in one day. This was exactly what I’d been saying beforehand, I just seemed to have forgotten about it in all of my excitement and tried to push myself too hard.
I’ll be taking it easy. I’ve got my epic fantasy on the go as my main story but I have also started a chick lit on the side for a bit of fun when my fantasy feels too much like treacle wading.
Remember guys: no matter how seriously you mean to take your writing, NaNoWriMo is fun and there’s no need to burn yourself out. Just because you don’t write as many words as some other people does not make you a failure, you’ll have still written more than the average human being and not “just ‘cus” but because you care about something. Don’t put too much pressure on yourselves this November!
I adore word wars. Adore. You get to write solidly in short bursts and then compare with friends who’s better.. AHEM.. who wrote the most. *competitive jeer*
This year I’m likely going to be using different IM clients and as such would love to word war with some peoples. Occasionally I’ll prod the NaNoWriMo hashtag and see who’s up for word wars on Twitter but let’s face it – it’s not as fun as when you do it with friends and can prod each other out of the writing zone.. remind me why I like these things again?
If you’d like to join me, just give me a prod and we’ll sort something out! At the moment I have MSN and GTalk but I really should get a one-size-fits-all IM client.
Do you guys like word wars or do you find the short bursts too short to really get into the writing?