Write, Despite Anything You Feel
Yes, that's my motto, something I say every day of the week to try an counter the negative thoughts that line up to block my path to writing success. Over the last three years of serious novel writing, I've noticed that these thoughts fall into two broad categories:
- Fear of Writing - lack of confidence in your abilities; struggling to make an idea work; fear that you aren't qualified to write what it is you want to write; fear that when you do finish people will notice right away how dreadful it is.
- Wall of Indifference - from the publishing world; from friends and family and the world in general.
You can probably add your own negativeties to these, feel free to do so.
Fear of Writing
This comes in all shapes and sizes and annoying disguises: fortunately there is one way of dealing with them all:
Write, write and carry on bloody writing!
Ok, that's simplistic I know, but you do have to keep going and not be defeated. You can feel defeated in the few minutes that elapse between finishing one novel and starting the next. Get a coffee or cup of tea and something nice to eat, cry a few tears, then drag out your writing tool of choice and batter the hell out of it.
I've had a massive attack of the unqualified bit over the last few months when trying to write the final chapter of my bike-based romance, The Girl Who Dreamt of Water (thanks for that Nicoll - much, much better than it's working title, Life Cycle). I really struggled with the idea that I know enough about female emotions to be able to write about them convincingly. And there was a lot to write about.
The way around this has been to break the chapter down into several segments (15 in all) that are much easier to write. I haven't written them in order either: I wrote all the easy bits first and gradually worked my way into the harder parts. This meant I was able to take
each level of emotional intensity one step at a time. And because it's not written linearly, I've got a much better picture of how everything fitted together. Normally I write from start to end with occasional looping back to tie up loose ends. When you work like this, and you
don't ready know a lot of the details of what's coming, then it's like trying to assemble a jigsaw in a dark room, nigh on impossible. So not only have I got most of the words written now, I can see how I can disassemble and re-assemble the sections back into a proper story, and not just a set of events arranged linearly.
Which is nothing like how I wrote The Darkness Beneath: so not only have I learned a few tricks to keep me writing, but also that the way you write each book may vary. So if it sn't working, maybe you have to find another way of writing. Which is great, because I though writing is writing is writing, when really it's just writing, writing, writing. :)
You can read the first three chapters of The Girl here.
Wall of Indifference
In some ways this is much harder to deal with because it's so inexplicable. Ok, I know the publishing industry are drowning in the screams of wannabe writers and the millions of people who, like me, are convinced they have something worth publishing. What I find harder to contend with is the lack of support from the vast majority of friends and family.
There are those who always pat you on the back, but the majority don't - and I know that I'm not alone in this - recent blogs and discussions I've been reading show this is very, very common.
So why aren't your siblings cheering you on from the sidelines? That's a question I can't answer or fathom. If you'd climbed any other mountain of achievement, say in the sporting arena, or raised £1k for charity by living with beans in your pants for a month, they'd be there every time. But when you finish writing a novel and get it published? No, forget it, not good enough, not interesting enough.
I was talking to someone whose opinion I trust about this and they said it was probably jealousy. I find that hard to believe - how could anyone be jealous of something so inconseqential as writing a novel?