I cannot tell you how many times I have let that voice inside my head get to me. Every writer knows it. The one that while you’re in the middle of your WIP says “This is crap.”
Do you listen to that voice?
I have, before. I have worked on, deleted, trashed, thrown away, and shredded so many started novels that I lost count. I’ve finished some too, though.
But there is always that voice, that one that says it’s not good enough, that it could be better, that this isn’t the story you should be working on. That voice is a liar. Don’t listen to it.
While yes, during your first draft, it may be crap. It probably is crap. The first draft is to get the story down, on paper (or computer) and out of your head. Then comes revisions. Make it not crap.
You have to get through this voice. All writers hear it, even the greats. No one can sit down and write a publish ready first draft, no one. If you can, you’re a unicorn and I want to be your friend.
You see, you’re not alone. While you’re sitting there, staring at your blank screen, or your blank page. While you’re reading over the chapters you just wrote. While you’re reading the critiques you’re getting back. We all have that sliver of doubt that enters our minds. It’s normal. It’s how you push through this fear and doubt that matters.
Don’t give up. Don’t assume because your first draft isn’t what you expected that you’re not a good writer. Don’t doubt something that pulls you back to it, no matter how long of a break you take, it’s your passion.
This is only one of the struggles writers face. Every. Day. Every time they sit down to write or edit. I have made a name for that voice. I call him Edgar. Yes, the voice in my head is a guy, I’m not sure what that means.
I imagine him sitting in my office at home while I’m writing at the other desk. He is across from me in the other desk chair, his fingers laced together and clasped in his lap. As I look over to him he gives me mischievous grin as he prepares to speak, yet his three feet stature and pudgy face makes me giggle. When he starts his negative talk, as he always does, I threaten to punt him across the room. That tends to shut him up for a while.
Who knows, I kind of like Edgar, even with his negativity. He pushes me past my comfort zone in my need to prove him wrong. He may end up in a story one day.
You don’t have to give that voice a name, or a physical embodiment, like I did. But do what you need to do to no longer listen to that voice anymore.
Now it’s your turn. What do you do when you hear that doubt creeping into your head?