Hi, fellow scribblers!
I'm C.J. Darlington, the newest member of this awesome Scribble Chicks community. I'm so honored to be here with Erynn, BJ, Christa, and Betsy. (I think Erynn just asked me so she could have another coffee lover on her side!)
Like many of you, I've been writing and dreaming about being published since I was a kid. In fact, I started the story that would become my first novel when I was fifteen. I still have the notebook with those early scribblings ... they were quite horrible!
It wasn't until I was sixteen and discovered books on the craft of writing (as well as Writer's Digest and The Writer magazines) that my apprenticeship in writing began. It would take fourteen years before I ever signed my first contract, which is just proof we can never give up.
The biggest struggles I've faced, and still face, are my own doubts. Am I really a writer or just a hack trying to tell stories? Am I fooling myself? I think feeling that way happens because it’s just the way writers are wired. We’re more in touch with our emotions and deep thoughts and feelings. Almost every writer I know feels self-doubt at one time or another.
But here’s the thing. It’s important that no matter where we are in life, whether you’re a writer, teacher, mother, lawyer, scientist, bank teller, waiter, actor or whatever---you remember that you are your worst critic. Are you going to let your doubts rule you and keep you down?
So take heart! Feeling doubt is normal. It just comes with the territory of creative writing. But it's how we respond to our doubts that matters. Do we give up? No! We press on. We have to. We're writers. And the cool thing is, we're not alone in this. We have the Author of the Universe ready and willing to help us. So next time you feel the doubt creeping in, send up a little prayer like, "Lord, I'm really struggling here. Please help me. I can't do this on my own."
On a more technical level, I'm learning I have to silence my inner critic when writing. If I don't, I will be holding down my delete key every few minutes! I really like the advice I've heard author Terri Blackstock share with aspiring writers:
"Don't get it right, get it written." I heard someone say this years ago when I was struggling to get started. At the time, I wrote the first three chapters over and over, editing and polishing, then I'd lose interest in the rest of the book and not finish. This piece of advice changed everything for me. Once I decided to write the whole first draft without judgment, and without going back to rewrite, I was able to keep my momentum building and finish a book. THEN I could begin rewriting. But once I get the first draft down, rewriting is easy. No matter how much rewriting is needed, I know I can do it because I've already written the whole book once.
Great advice, don't you think? I'm going to try to remember this tonight during my next novel writing session. How about you? Do you struggle with doubts? What do you with them?