The Obligatory Post on Self-Doubt
I write this now so I can refer to it in the future. You know, because a time will come when I don’t feel this awesome.
Every author struggles with self-doubt.
Does this sentence work?
This might be the most terrible thing ever written.
Am I ever going to be published?
What if I don’t have any other ideas?
This has been done before!
I think the answers are:
Probably. Unlikely. Possibly. You will. Of course it has.
I feel like I’m selling out. Honestly, this idea sprang from my brain when I was trying to think of a more commercial project. I read it at workshop and I’ve gotten this comment (a direct quote):
“I think this is the best thing I’ve heard you read.”
Well, on one hand, thank you. Regardless of how “good” of a writer I am, there is always room for improvement. I would hope that every week would be the best thing I’ve ever written.
On the other hand, this is The Project I Hate. How can you like it when I hate it with such a fiery passion?
You know what blocks writers from writing? Themselves. By labeling it The Project I Hate, I sequestered it to a little space in my mind and started putting up sandbags around the thing.
I’ve complained about it to my writer friends and tried to shut my mouth when they glared condescension. I know! People love it! I hate it! I want it to die! Why can’t I crush it with my mind vice?
Last week, I found myself getting pensive. Every night, I had some sort of interaction with another human being. As an introvert, this was draining. And, when I’ve been in front of people too long without recharge time, I start to dig things up from the dregs of my brain. The pot gets stirred. I scrape bottom.
While I closed down the cafe Monday night, it was the first time I’d been alone in five days. I have been working my second job for three months, which is the job I walked away from a year ago. It sort of sucks to think you are in the same place you were a year before. No forward movement, no developments, no prospects. And, dammit, writing used to be fun! Why isn’t writing fun anymore?
Could it be because I’m actively sabotaging my work?
Thanks, brain. You asshat.
So, I put down The Project I Hate, just for twelve hours. I went to the coffee shop, took out a project I’ve been sitting on, 16 pages from completion (I know, another boneheaded abandonment), and I finished it. It was like a forgotten circuit board lighting up. I remembered. Writing is fun. I don’t do it because I have to, I do it because I love it.
Who cares if that sentence doesn’t work? You can fix it later, or delete it. Maybe it doesn’t go there.
Until you read everything that’s ever been written, you can’t know if yours is worse.
You’re never going to get published if you don’t finish something.
You have new ideas every day that you add to your brain stew. You will never run out of ideas.
Everything has been done before. You can form new connections, mix new metaphors, build new characters, and set new scenes. Everything may have been done before, but it’s new to you.
Oh, and The Project I Hate? It’s called The Elementalist and it is fantastic.