I’ve read all your comments over the weekend on my last post on giving yourself permission to be bad.
I was interested to read Vennessa’s comment:
Ditto. I also work as an editor, and I find it extremely difficult to just write without “perfecting” as I go. My brain is constantly analyzing and looking for ways to improve what I have already written.
For instance, my wip is currently at 50,000 words and I am struggling to move it forward because I know there are some major character motivation issues at the start. I “need” to go back and perfect those before I can progress. That requires some major deletion and rewritting.
I worked for two and a half years on my first novel. Then I went to a writing conference and met a new friend and we wound up exchanging critiques on our manuscripts. And something he said convinced me that my manuscript was hopelessly flawed.
So I walked away from it.
That’s right, I quit that novel. I don’t believe in continuing work on a novel that I’ve lost confidence in. It feels too much like a writing exercise, and I don’t do writing exercises.
I started work the next day on a new novel. Same setting, somewhat different characters, somewhat different storyline. But it was a novel I had confidence in.
That lasted about 4 months, before I realized that one was hopeless too.
So I abandoned that one and started a new one. I actually finished that one. It was a good story idea and not too badly executed. I never sold it, but it was enough to get me an agent and give me some hope that I could finish a novel.
Then I worked on novels 4 and 5 and abandoned both.
Novel #6 was the first one I sold.
One of you noted that this writing game is scary because you only succeed if you have real talent, and how do you know if you have real talent? You only know that if you succeed.
That is very true, and I can’t say that I ever “knew” I was going to get published. However, I always thought I had talent, and as the years went by, writers I respected told me I had talent. So I made up my mind that I was going to act as if I was going to get published, and that meant writing my best work.
By that, I mean, writing my first draft (with permission to be bad), and then editing it and taking in in for critique and then learning what worked and what didn’t. Repeat every month for ten years.
Honestly, that was a traumatic ten years. I have a friend who took TWENTY-SIX YEARS to get published. I have other friends who did it in two years. That’s what makes this writing game so nerve-wracking. You don’t know if you’re on the two-year path or the ten-year path or the twenty-six year path.
What you do know is that you have a compulsion to write and you’re going to keep at it until they bury you or publish you.