I’ve been doing the planning and research for a new book since January – and you know what? It’s been going really, really badly.
I used to think as soon as I’d had one ‘yes’ from a publisher I’d never doubt myself as a writer again.
Ha. Aha ha. Yeah. You’d think I’d never met myself.
I’ve heard ‘yes’ three times now, and it made me happy each time, but it doesn’t seem to have made any difference to the way I feel about my ability to write a good book. Interesting, right? All that validation, and yet here I am, flailing in uncertainty, over-thinking everything, not writing, and getting more and more miserable by the day.
Self-doubt has often held me back, but I thought I’d slain that particular monster. This time last year, I even wrote a blog post about it. Anyway, I thought Old Me might have some good advice for Current Me, so I went back to that blog post, and here’s the advice that resonated the most:
“…ignore advice from friends, ignore the Booker prize winner, ignore what’s fashionable or popular. Don’t write what you think you ought to be writing. Write what you want. This is about you finishing a novel…Right now, you need to go for your own weird, personal gold.”
I thought I might be a strong enough writer by now to take trends and advice into consideration. Some writers seem to be able to do that. They’re versatile. Someone points out a gap in the romance market and they fill it and they do it well. I guess those people are true professionals.
But I think, for me, the creative process doesn’t work like that. Or it doesn’t yet. Perhaps because I’m still relatively new to all this. If I try to do what I think someone else wants – I do nothing. Or it comes out half-dead, with characters like brightly-painted corpses. Why that should be, I don’t know. Lack of confidence? Lack of imagination? Selfishness? I admire these writers who can seemingly write anything, but I don’t think I’m one of them. Perhaps, by chance, what I do might align with what someone out there wants, but I don’t think I can ‘choose’ to write something in such a planned way.
So, I’m scrapping some stuff. I’m trying to stop worrying what editors might like or readers might want. I’m going back to basics. What do I want to write? Really, truly, deep down? I haven’t quite decided, but already I feel better; less scared, less confused, more creative.
I’m going to write exactly what I want, because that seems to be the only way I can write anything at all. And if it turns out I’m a one trick pony, well, at least I’ve found that out, right?
What about you? Can you pick up on trends or write to market? Or do you feel you have less choice in what comes out, like me?