Of all the obstacles I’ve come across since throwing myself head first into writing, by far the toughest monster I’ve ever had the pleasure/misfortune of grappling with has been self doubt. Cruel and discrete, self doubt has effectively dismantled my drive and creativity more times than I’d like to admit. It’s subtle, and I never realize it slinking back into my head until I’ve already lost touch with my characters and story. It doesn’t help when I read amazing books on the side that have me laughing, cringing, and weeping right along with the characters.
Will I ever be able to achieve that level of commitment to my characters from readers? The doubt starts planting thoughts in my brain designed to pull me into despair. How can I ever compete with these authors, with their characters that I have wept over? It makes suggestions, too – the doubt thinks it knows how to write my book. This seems to work for that author… Look at the reviews! Yeah, let’s try a little bit of that.
Evil stuff. But totally necessary for any writer, I feel.
It can be devastating to find yourself once again standing in front of the drawing board after months of work. But that’s what a writer does, isn’t it? Part of being a good writer is being able to step away and start over without a second thought. When I find myself plugging away at a story that has no meaning to me, losing touch with the characters that were once my heart and soul… Well, the drawing board is where I need to be, isn’t it? Shutting my character’s voices out and writing with only the thought of what might sound exciting to readers is not where I want to be.
I think admitting this to myself has helped me grow as a writer. I know now to keep my eyes open, and watch for signs that my stories cease to touch my heart. If I can’t connect to my own characters, how can I expect anyone else to?