I say this to myself, a lot.
Me, of course!
Every time I read something I write, I get this sick feeling in my stomach and a tiny voice in my head says, “…And you call yourself a writer?”
I look at the words. Not the best metaphor I’ve come up with.
Nop, this phrase won’t be remembered after I’m long gone.
Is the story sinking? Do the sentences make sense? Would my readers know what I’m implying? Would they see through my disguises and guess who’s the murderer, long before I reveal it to them? Or are they in for a surprise? What? Ah? No. Back space. Type. Cancel. Think. Fingers quavering over the keys. WRITE. WRITE. WRITE.
This happens to the best of us.
It happens to me so often, that sometimes I feel that taking writing as my profession, will be a huge mistake. Sometimes, it’s about our story concepts, sometimes it’s about the writer’s block we undergo. Sometimes, we cannot use fancy words to make the speech look of the highest quality. Sometimes, it’s just the agony of going through my book and seeing how many typos and grammatical errors are there in it.
It makes me feel hopeless, shameful even.
Two things help me. No I’m not telling you to back space your entire creation.
First I start reading one of my favorite books. In this case, I read Divergent for like the third time yesterday, all in one go. You might ask why?
Why would I put myself through the pain of reading something that inspires me, but at the same, something I, in my heart feel I cannot live up to?
At the first instance, it inspires me.
There’s a reason that particular book is your favorite.
It makes me happy. It gives me all those feels. Ahh. Only nerdy fan-girls like me will understand (and I’m pretty sure you are one of them!) It makes me smile and break into ‘Ohs’ and ‘Ahs’ and all sorts of cheerful sounds. It makes me want to be more like the author of that book, who has been so successful in her ventures.
It’s an understatement to say it plainly inspires me. It makes me feel alive.
And my fingers tingle to write something just like my favorite book that could make not only me, but a lot of others, feel alive.
Second, I go through my past critiques. Since most of them are my friends – they all have only nice things to say. It gives me hope – that at least there is some one who enjoys reading my book. And if I have succeeded in gathering one person’s attention – I can improve, hell I can go through series of revision and beta readers – and get more people to listen to (or rather read) my story!
And then there are negative critiques. Sure, the only purpose of them is make you feel bad about your self, and make you tear the pages off your laptop screen and crumple them into the dustbin (Just kidding!) But they also aim to point out which segment you can make a lot more interesting. And well, if in my history answer, someone points out six prominent mistakes, I think they make it a lot easier for me, because instead of going through the whole thing with a fine comb, I can directly tackle those mistakes and stay care free of the rest.
Using the words my guru Veronica Roth wrote in one of her blogs… After going through your book a million times (which I know you have! Don’t lie.) You are bound to think your work is more crappy than your garbage bin. But this is all because you are the one who wrote it. And you can see the bandages you’ve plastered and the broken molds you’ve fixed. You know where exactly you’ve cemented the cracks .. and that makes your book .. seem .. falling from grace.
But just because you can see them. (Which you have to) Doesn’t mean others can see them too. Whenever I went for an elocution competition, my nana told me, “Remember they don’t know what you’re about to say or what you’ve prepared or what you’ve gone through in these past few months. And therefore judgement of their part is based on only what they hear.” (or now as I put it, on what they read!)
That’s what you have to keep in mind – they read the polished letters and the lovely thoughts. They see your struggle as a victory.
And no matter, it might still seem to you that you are a shabby writer.
You are so much more than your mistakes!:)