Thursday, April 06, 2006

This Is Me

There's been a few phrases running through my head the last few days...

Maybe you don't know how to do this writing thing after all.

Maybe you can't write a good novel.

Maybe you should quit.

I'm starting to doubt my writing abilities. It's not the talent - I believe I do have a talent for writing. But it's the craft part that I'm having a hard time with - all the little things a writer has to remember. Plot structure. Rising tension. Character emotions. Showing and not telling. Using the five senses. Writing a page-turner. Foreshadowing.

Don't worry - this is just a fleeting moment. It will eventually pass. Rene would probably say that I'm thinking too much, and she's probably right. I'm trying too hard to come up with something completely original for my plot, which is pretty much impossible anyway. But when I look at the books out there, I want mine to stand out and be that "high concept."

I can't quit. I won't quit. But it has been sheer torture the last few days. My brain has went around in circles in an attempt to get this stuff figured out. And then I read other author's books and I think, "Did I include that in my manuscript? Did I show instead of tell? Did I reveal my character's secret at the right time?"

I just need to relax, let go, and allow my mind to process everything. But it's easier said than done.


  1. I hate those mind games we play with ourselves. The bottom line, though, is the worry challenges us and makes us better.

    We're a pretty screwy lot, but let's face it, writing a good novel is darn hard. It deserves the proper respect. I'm sure you're in good shape. I'd worry if you were convinced it was the best piece of work ever conceived.

  2. We ALL have these days, Melissa. I was talking to a friend of mine last night. She's multipublished and was telling me she's almost at the stage where she knows she's going to start thinking everything she writes is c**p. Trust me, you're not alone in feeling the way you do. As you said, this too shall pass.

  3. Jason, you're right - the worry does challenge us. And even now, I'm starting to feel myself rise to the challenge again.

    Tess - your post just proved to me that no matter if you are pubbed or unpubbed, you STILL have that niggling self-doubt. Thanks for sharing. :-)

  4. Your blog inspired a question:

    What do you define as "talent" if "Plot structure, Rising tension, Character emotions, Showing and not telling, Using the five senses, Writing a page-turner, and Foreshadowing" are all "craft."

    I'm not trying to be difficult, but I'm curious. Most writers I know think that there are some aspects of this writing thing that are inborn "talent" and some that are learnable craft issues (me included) but everyone seems to define what is "inborn" and what is "learnable" differently. I wonder if each person thinks hte "inborn" elements are the things they did well from the start, and craft is everything else.

    So what is "talent" to you?

  5. Don't think, Meat, you can only hurt the ballclub.

    Why are you worried about what other authors put in their books? You want something fresh? Then quit trying to use other books as a guideline. Just write the damn book. Find what is logical. Once you have a logical concept, then worry about making it sound fresh.

  6. Rene - You have a way of setting me straight, as always. :-)

    Diana -
    An intriguing question and I think it's worthy of its own post. Stay tuned for tomorrow!

  7. I know what you mean, Melissa. I think this is the lifelong struggle of the writer. I've heard of famous authors that go through this very thing. The good thing is, it will pass and you'll be back in the flow again. Just shut out that negative voice as much as you can. :-)

  8. Okay Melissa, I have an idea. If you're seriously considering quitting (and it doesn't sound to me like you really are), then give it a shot. The quitting, I mean. If you CAN quit, if you can just walk away from writing, you're not a writer.

    But I'm betting that if you try it, you'll fail. At quitting. I'm betting you won't be able to quit because you ARE a writer. The only thing left to do in that case is to keep trying. To write, not to quit. ;-)

  9. Sometimes you just have to write and say to heck with all the 'rules.' They bog me down WAY too much.

  10. There's this author that I know who is up for a writing award in a couple of weeks and she still has doubts as to whether her writing is any good. She calls them the crows of doubt, (or was that turkey?). And we're talking published successfully.

    Everyone's right - you are thinking too hard and that leads to blocks and "stilted" writing. I'm trying to just write now, not think about what I'm writing, just get the story down. Then I'll go back through and work on the other stuff. Nothing will happen if you don't at least get the story down.

  11. Yes, you just need to let go and tell the story. You can worry about all that other stuff later. What I hate is the feeling that the stuff I've just written is garbage. Sometimes I come back later with a fresh eye, and it's great stuff! You never know.

  12. You better not quit! Just remember - breathe, take things one thing at a time. Everyone has moments, hours, days, when they think they must be mad to even make the attempt. But we have stories to tell, so we take it on anyway. That's what makes us writers.

  13. Rachel, last night I felt so much better...and I know there's no way I can quit. Writing defines me in so many ways - I AM a writer and will always be, no matter if I'm published or not. :-)

    Bren - shutting out the negative voices is hard! But I think just taking a few days off from my manuscript has done me a world of good.

    Dana - you're absolutely right! The rules can bog you down when you're in the midst of creating.

    Eve - that's exactly what I was going through - stilted writing. And it was driving me nuts. I think taking a break was the right thing to do.

    Michelle - I do that all the time - I come back and read it and I think, well, this wasn't too bad after all!

    Kelly - don't worry, I'm not going to quit. I couldn't. In fact, I think it would be impossible for me to quit. :-)

  14. ugh--isn't it hard? Sometimes too hard!!!

    I know you'll be carrying on, but it is still hard!!! Hugs!!!

  15. I quit. I stopped trying to write or do research or anything. It lasted, oh, about a day. Stories kept running through my head, I kept jotting things down, I couldn't put my research books away. So I figured that I'm stuck with this. *G*

  16. Camilla - thanks for stopping by! Sorry I just now caught your comment.

    I could quit for about a day, too, but that would be it. Actually, writing is so much a part of me that even if I said I'd quit, my brain would continue to behave as if I didn't. :-)


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