Thursday, 13 June 2013

We all feel like the worst writer in the world (but we're not)

Sometimes we feel downright stupid as writers, and it always occurs at similar stages of writing patterns. Sure we feel amateur when we start out, but that may be accurate considering we have learnt so little and have so much more room to grow.

But I'm talking about times we feel -- without exaggerating -- that we are literally the worst writer in the world when it's just a knee-jerk reaction. It happens/happened to me when:
  • I read a Colleen Hoover, Khaled Hosseini or Jodi Picoult novel;
  • when I wrote my second full-length manuscript; and
  • every time I get past the 25% mark in my current draft.
Does this happen to you, too?

overcoming writer's block - crumpled paper on ... I needed to write this post because I always feel like it's just me. I believe I personally cannot be a great writer unless I read lots of different types of books to refine and grow my style. I read traditional books and self-published depending on what story catches my eye or what book a friend refers to me. So it comes as no shock I sometimes stumble across modern classics that blow my mind.

How the hell can I write that good?
What's the point when I can tell my writing sounds flat and boring?
I'm just me and I always sound like I'm trying too hard to sound good -- but never do.

Guys, all normal!

I'm not sure how many of you know but I've written lots for years although I'm only 22 ½. I wrote fan fiction of a Charmed episode when I was 11 (30,000 words). I started/tried to write a novel when I was 14/15 and pushed working on that until I was 18 or so (42,000 words). Between those years I started many manuscripts and failed.

"Writing", 22 November 2008
(Photo credit: ed_needs_a_bicycle)
My first serious manuscript I started, finished and edited/revised to high heaven and back was Pulling Me Under (book #1 in the series; Precise is the prequel, book #0.5). As with all my other manuscripts I got the dreaded Writer's Block. It took 4.5 months to finish it. I freaked out the next few drafts. Cut thousands of words from the start. Added necessary scenes later.

The thing is it doesn't get easier as you go on. Well, not how I foresaw it would. I assumed I'd get so much practise, become so talented and knowledgeable that I'd learn what amateur mistakes not to make (show vs tell, character quirks, character likeability, story arc, balancing storylines, etc). But I didn't see that the growing would still continue as much as I learnt initially in my writing life still 3 years later from my first serious manuscript.

Guys, here's the thing. I know this will sound like a bit of a brag, but my latest novel, Drowning in You didn't quite sink. On June 7 (American time) it became an Amazon bestseller (Top #57 out of the entire Kindle store).

Yet, my current working manuscript, Being Kalli, almost didn't happen during my third draft because I was like, "It's soo crap!". You heard right. Only because of extreme circumstances and even better friends did it not end with the fate of the big "delete" button.

I had thought my writing was  more refined than ever before, the story was killer and unique... 

...and then I got beta/critique comments back for it. Man, I have some very smart and astute writing friends.

I almost caved in.
  • Too much to change.
  • I didn't have enough talent.
  • It sounded too crap.
  • People wouldn't like it enough.
These are whiny, untrue excuses, Rebecca.

You can do it!!
You can do it!! (Photo credit: Abi Booth)

Because you can do it. If I can, you can. It took a month of crying and whining and possibly losing friends because of my attitude, but I made it and I am shocked at how great this story has turned out. There is absolutely no way I would have stepped up to the next level in my writing career if I didn't hit this low.

It's not just a cliché! You absolutely will not become a better writer until you hit the lows. You can't improve until you learn both from the good and bad.

Trust me, you can do this and I know it even though I may not know you, because if you're as hungry for writing success as I am, you'll make it.


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Rebecca Berto is the author of the novella, Precise and the New Adult Contemporary Romance, Drowning in You

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