This is it! This is the killer!
It’s debilitating, disabling, demotivating, defeatist, destructive and, hopefully, delusive.
And it’s the thing that has plagued writers throughout the ages, regardless of their success, experience, age or genres. All authors worry that their writing is bad, that is lacking the sparkle that will make it stand out from the crowd, that it is simply average, ordinary and would be better off never to have been committed to paper (or computer document).
This last week, though, my writing wasn’t simply average. It wasn’t even bad. It was the worst writing that had ever been created since the first word was scratched onto a bit of stone.
Now, this may well be true, but that’s not the real problem here. The problem is that this sort of thinking stops me writing. It’s another form of writer’s block, and a really nasty one, because the more you try to write the more your writing seems poorly contrived and the slower you manage to push it out.
Draft chapter 7 of No Time To Stand And Stare, titled ‘No Use Crying’, is just over 3800 words long but took ten days to write, thanks to the nagging feeling that it was simply awful. The story was a meandering nonsense and the characters were flat and lifeless. The dialogue was dull, the settings were soulless, the plot was puerile, the vocabulary was vapid, the construction was commonplace. In all, it was simply not worth pursuing – the only cure would be to ditch the whole thing and either start over or give it up as a lost cause altogether.
I did neither of these things, of course, but working through the belief that I was “The Worst Writer EVER!” was a real challenge.
It will come as no surprise that the only alternative to either starting over or giving up is to KEEP ON WRITING. Funnily enough that was part of the solution to the form of writer’s block I suffered in the previous chapter (see this post), and it will no doubt be a major part of overcoming other forms that will crop up in the future as well.
Naturally, keeping on writing, when I thought what I was writing was awful, turned out to be difficult. On a couple of days, I barely squeezed out more than 100 words before burying my head in the sand (aka ‘Surfing The Internet’) – my daily target is 1000 words – but at least I was writing something.
Trying to convince myself that it wasn’t dreadful and that I wasn’t the worst of all authors made no difference whatsoever. So, instead I decided to accept that I was writing rubbish, but it was FIRST DRAFT rubbish. Rubbish that I will transform into something merely average in future drafts. In short, I have deferred the problem for my future self to sort out, leaving me free to keep on writing…
… and just maybe I’ll find out it wasn’t that bad after all!