After a lot of whittling down, and deleting the draft of a post of other stuff I screw up (but not as much I screw this up), I have chosen the one thing I screw up the most: Not believing in my ability to put a story into written words or finish it.
I think I’ve written about five novel-length stories at this point. Two of which are published, two more will be at some point. Yet, without fail, I get to a point in every story when I’m convinced I won’t be able to do this whole writing thing. Usually it’s points, plural.
When I get past the meet cute and the first internal debates or conflict arise, I doubt my ability to convey legitimate reasons the hero and heroine shouldn’t be ‘happily ever after’ right then. When I get to the saggy middle, and page after page feels like, “he said, she said, blah, blah, blah,” I doubt my plot and its pace. When the shite hits the fan in the BBM, I doubt my skill of showing the emotion. Multiple times throughout each story, I’m fairly certain it’s a complete and total POS and I need give up writing and climb the corporate ladder instead.
But then, I reach the end. I reach the end of my very rough first draft and I have about 2/3rds of a story and a good map. I reach the end of my second draft, and I have a cohesive manuscript. I reach the end of my third draft and then the critiqued draft, and I feel pretty damn good about my story and myself.
The takeaway here is, you CAN do it. It’s normal to doubt you’re ability to finish. I know authors who are writing book fifty-something and they still freak out somewhere around the mid-point of each book and swear they suck and will never be able to tell a story again. OH HAPPY DAY! Our neurosis is normal! But we have to power through the doubts and b.s. and keep writing. Even when it feels icky, even when your story jumped the tracks three chapters ago and you have no clue why the characters are discussing spoon bread, keep at it. Write or re-write, drop back and punt the plot, go for a walk and realize spoon bread is not that important. But whatever you do, DO NOT stop and NEVER give up. Quit worrying about screwing up and “tell the damn story.” (TM EMichels)