WRITER LIFE: Keepin’ the Faith

Yesterday, a writer friend of mine hosted a little pity party, where she convinced herself that her writing sucked and she’d never be good enough. Due to such negative thinking, she doubted she could write another word on her story. So, she emailed me, explained the situation, and asked for a swift kick in the rear.

Always happy to oblige with such requests <g>, I sent her the following response. In case it helps someone else (or in case I need a dose of my own medicine in the future), I am posting it here.

Without further ado, my words of encouragement are as follows:

Dear [friend],

As you know, I am always here to give you a kick in the rear whenever you need one. =) <<KICK>>

I don’t really have advice, but I do have an opinion. (What? Erica with an opinion??) Here it is: Having read much of what you write, and having listened to what you say about what you write, I can say with authority that you tend to underestimate yourself. Big time.

Even if your current draft sucks so badly that a black hole is forming in your hard drive, I’m still positive it’s not as bad as you think.

Remember, first drafts are just first drafts. They’re supposed to suck.

Once you get it all down is when you go back and layer in all the good parts that pull it all together.

Don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t look as good on paper as it did in your mind’s eye. It will eventually. That’s when layering comes in. *After* the first draft.

What exactly are you afraid of? That your manuscript won’t be as good as the published novels you’ve been reading?

The only way for that to come true is if you stop writing. As long as you keep writing and revising, you can be as good or better as any of the other authors on that line. I have no doubt about it.

More than that, I believe in you. You should, too.

So, since you know I love breaking things down by number due to my
OCD/psychosis/whatever, here goes:

1.) Park it in the chair and write. =)

2.) Whatever you see on the screen is better than you think it is.

3.) A first draft is a first draft. Nobody’s first draft is on the shelves.

4.) Stop aiming for perfection until you’ve got something written that
you can go back and “perfect”.

5.) Reading to get a feel for a line is excellent. However, don’t judge your first draft based on their final draft. In all probability, their first draft had sucky love scenes and no sexual tension until they went back and layered it in.

In other words, I’d probably stop speaking to you if your first draft was equal or better than currently-published manuscripts. =)

Seriously, it’s OK to read for research, but do NOT let yourself compare your draft in any way to any finished product, EVER.

Let me say it again: Do NOT pass judgment on yourself based on anything anybody else does, published or not. I can’t think of anything to kill momentum faster.

6.) As with the medical profession, sometimes it’s good to get a second opinion. If you’re stuck, maybe talk it out w/ a CP or show the pages in question (*cough* *cough* *nudge* *nudge*) because according to your CP, talking things over with YOU has helped *her* through lots of tough times and over seemingly impossible MS hurdles. So pop her in a chair for a brainstorming session if you want. Turnabout is fair play. =)

7.) Park it in the chair and write. =)

OK, that’s all I got for now. Looks like seven cents. And a <<kick>>.



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Erica Ridley