I’ve lacked, of late.
Not in life, but in my writing. I can’t actually remember the last time I looked at either of my manuscripts and worked on them. Since I finished NaNoWriMo in November 2012, I have made very little progress on either of my stories.
I’ve written, but only as an escape from writing, if that makes sense. I’ve been writing short stories, news articles and blog posts, but my two Works In Progress (WIP) haven’t moved forward since I left them in the metaphorical drawer after finishing them.
I’ve also being doing other stuff, such as getting back to work, learning to code and setting up my freelance business – although in truth, even that’s slowed to a crawl at the moment.
Sure, I’ve tried to set myself timetables to write/work to, but when it comes to it, I struggle to actually pick up the laptop and do it. Or I’ll start, and fall asleep at my laptop for hours and end up wasting the day. I couldn’t figure out why I am in this “I’ll do it tomorrow” phase.
Then I started to listen to podcasts again (stay with me). I started to look for podcasts on coding, although there were few, but also picking up old ones like Mur Lafferty‘s I Should Be Writing podcast. She had also taken a break recently from podcasting to help her finish her book and because of family crises. In the batch of most recent podcasts (296-300), she referred to many of the same problems that I had, which helped me see why I couldn’t progress: fear and self-doubt.
It didn’t occur to me to start with, but the reason I’ve not been progressing with my WIP, is because I’m afraid. I’m afraid that when I finish it, people will read it and they will just laugh at me. There is almost an element of “who are you to say you’re an author?” in there too. This could be why I’ve dreamt about all the school bullies for the last couple of months. They are my tormentors, who would stop at nothing to mock me just for trying to do something or trying better myself.
In her podcast, Mur talks about a lot of the same issues she’s been having. She’s been suffering with similar negative thoughts which have made her feel “meh, what’s the point?” She went on further to describe another feeling I didn’t realise I had, which was that negative critique inside me that was saying:
“You call this original? Anyone can see that X=A! It’s so obvious from the first page, that everyone will get it and they won’t bother to read past page two and they’ll all call you a looser. Why should they read what you have to offer?”
Mur says that this feeling comes from the fact that you know all the story, because it came from your mind. Give it to someone chapter by chapter, however, and they may not work out the plot twists and surprises. To them, it will be a thrilling read. Imagine if Dan Brown had looked at his manuscript for The Da Vinci Code and said “well of course the [this person] is the teacher, it’s so obvious from the moment they [blank]!” The world would have been short one great novel (well, I think it is. If you haven’t read it yet, do. Or watch the film, that’s pretty good too).
I would liken it to turning whilst driving. So many people fail to use their turn signal/indicators because to them, it’s obvious they’re going to pull out into that lane, why should they need to announce it to the world? Sadly, we’re not all mind readers, which is why we slam on the brakes, lean on the horn and make all kinds of hand gestures at you when you pull out right in front of me without indicating.
So what will I learn from this? Well, my inner critique may think that my WIP’s are obvious, flawed and worthless, but I’ll never know unless I finish editing them and get some alpha readers, go through a second edit, show it to some beta readers and then – who knows – pass it on to an agent. Because ultimately,
One word written is worth one million imagined.
I’ll keep you all updated. Besides, I have a reputation to live up to now: