Saturday, November 16, 2013

What If It's No Good?

So, you’ve reached the point in the story where you’ve met your characters, set the scene, and the conflict has been introduced. And while you’re probably really excited about your story, you’re wondering at the same time if it’s any good. The coworkers, friends, and relatives you regale with your last impressive dialogue bit just smile politely at you instead of agreeing that you are, in fact, brilliant. If you’ve happened to reread what you’ve written (some do, some don’t), you might be panicked because the scenes that seemed awesome three days ago now seem bland. The doubt that always plagues a writer now seems more credible than ever. You wonder in the back of your mind constantly, what if it’s no good?

Don’t Judge It Now

Any new story will seem awesome, brilliant, and perfect to you. Maybe not to the rest of the world, but to you at least. That is okay. New stories are good things for writers, even if we are the only ones to ever read them.

It will take time, hard work, and dedication to complete your book. The writing process is a very challenging, frustrating, and irritating experience. It can also be fun and rewarding. One day, a few months from now, you will open up your completed document and look over the little manuscript you chose to create in a moment that you later described as insanity. No matter how bad your book may be, I have found it is still rewarding to see what you have written.

What I’ve discovered is you can’t judge a new story as it is still taking shape. You don’t know if it will be brilliant or not until after you’ve completed it. Even then, it will likely be a month or two before you can look back at your book and make any kind of sound judgment on story. You may choose to clean up your mess and move on toward publishing. You may decide it is a piece of trash. Either way, it is okay. You have completed a book, and you have won.

You Have Not Failed

Even if you decide after rereading your manuscript that the book is no good and deserves to be deleted from existence, it is okay. You have not wasted the days you spent slaving over a keyboard, pouring your heart and soul into a story that you now hate. If you reach the conclusion at some point in the future that this story needs to be erased or just dropped, it is fine.

You will have gained experience from such a book. You have learned how to complete a book without your head exploding. You have learned to manage your life and complete a work of art. Not every artist paints something worthy of being shown in a museum, right?  You will have learned something from the time it took to complete your book, and you can apply it to your next writing venture.

Believe In Yourself

Let’s head to that unfinished manuscript. You’re wondering whether or not it’s any good. Sadly, you won’t know for a while whether or not the story you’ve created is good enough to entertain anyone beyond you or people who know you. But that’s not important right now. What you have to do is set those details aside. Set your doubts aside. Believe in yourself.

Time will tell whether or not the manuscript you’re slowly but surely cranking out is the Next Great American Novel. You don’t know anything for certain right now, so we will just imagine that it is so. On the days when Doubt is whispering, “This is crazy! You can’t do this! This book isn’t even that good! You should quit!” just ignore it.

Imagine instead that you’re writing the next bestseller series, like Twilight or the Hunger Games (If nothing else, respect their success). What if you’re writing an awesome story that has the potential to make millions? How would you feel if you never finished it? What if writing is your calling, and you’ll never know it unless you finish this book? How will those following your progress on the story feel if they hear you want to give up?

Sure, you may not be writing the next bestseller. You may not make millions of dollars. You may end up trashing the whole book and being glad about it. But you don’t know anything yet, because the story isn’t finished. You haven’t given yourself time to find out if the novel is any good. Don’t sell yourself short. For just a moment, believe in yourself. Believe that this story has the potential to reach millions of readers. And each of those readers want to make you rich.

Now start writing that next scene. One day, we’ll find out if you’re right when you daydream about success. But not until you finish.

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