I hit a wall last night. I made it to 70,000 words on this project, and I just stopped for a moment, staring at my computer.
“Is this any good?”
I think the answer with most rough drafts is, no, but it could be. I try to repeat that to myself often. Rough drafts aren’t about finesse and perfection; they’re about throwing ideas on paper and seeing what sticks. There’s time to take scenes or sentences out in the editing phase.
Rationally, I know all of that. But as I look at my draft now, all I see are my flaws – I’m using the same descriptive words too much, I’m not fleshing out my villain enough, I’m not giving my minor characters enough to do, and my biggest fear, there’s just too much going on.
“Ugh,” I groaned to my husband. “This is just stretching out so much. I’m barely at the halfway point. I can’t imagine writing another 70,000 words.”
“What does it matter?” he asked, shrugging. “It’s not like you have a firm deadline.”
He’s right – there’s no one tracking me to make sure I get this done. I don’t have an agent or a publishing company breathing down my back, demanding that the story is done by a certain date. But I had set a date for myself of June 30th. It’s arbitrary, but that would have given me three full months to work on it, along with the sporadic times I worked on it last year when I started it. As Stephen King taught us, a first draft should be done in three months.
As I thought about my lack of a deadline, my mind leaped to another question: why are you even doing this? I don’t have to. This isn’t my real job. I’m not going to make money off of it. And, as we established above, it’s probably terrible.
So, what answer did I come up with? As you may remember from previous posts, I really struggle with the idea of calling myself a “writer.” I think a lot of self-published authors do. Maybe I’ll never consider myself an “author.” But I am a writer – I can’t imagine not writing (pardon the double negative). I have so many stories in my head, so many characters, so many scenes. I kept all of my ideas tucked away in my mind for years, until I write The Historian. Now that I’ve experienced the catharsis in the process of creating a story, I don’t know how I could ever go back.
Maybe it’s crap. Maybe I won’t sell a single copy. Maybe one of my beta readers will review it and say, “Not your best work.” But I have to keep writing. I’m not doing because other people are telling me that I should or I have to – I’m doing this for myself.
Writers: Do you struggle with these thoughts? How do you keep yourself motivated to keep working in the face of self-doubt?