I have a confession to make: I think too much. Prone to self-doubt, as I work my way through a manuscript, I’m constantly frustrated with plotting problems, and wondering if I’ll ever finish the rough draft. And when it’s time to revise, I wonder if I’ll ever be able to turn my usually very rough draft into something an editor would buy, much less something a reader would actually read. I usually decide several times that the whole enterprise is hopeless.
At some point, a little inner voice always starts to say, “This is never going to work. Your characters are flat. Your plot is implausible. Your setting is dull. The description is weak. You’re writing too long. You’re writing too short. There is too much plot for this length of a book. There is too little plot for this length of a book. You don’t have enough interesting subplots. You have too many interesting subplots, and they distract from the main story. Your book doesn’t have enough sexy sizzle to sell. Your book has too much sizzle and it’s going to be impossible to live down at the next family gathering, in the unlikely event that it ever does see the light of day,” and on and on. You get the idea. I could go on for literally pages like this.
So eventually, I start thinking, “You know, that retelling of that old classic movie I’ve been thinking about sounds pretty fun. I bet that would be a lot more fun to write, and it wouldn’t have any of these problems. It would be easy by comparison!” (I’ve learned that the project you haven’t started yet is always much easier and more fun than the one you’re knee-deep in.) So I’ve learned to simply not listen to that voice and keep plowing ahead. I can’t rationalize my way into believing that my book is going to be great, and I can’t stop those voices from popping up occasionally. But I can just refuse to listen, put my head down, and keep writing, so that’s what I do. And it has paid off. I have two books coming out in the next few months, and I desperately wanted to quit on both of them on many, many occasions. Luckily, I didn’t listen to those doomsaying voices. That makes it a little easier — a very little easier — to ignore them on the next go-round.
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