Writers are often worriers. We’re plagued with indecision about the choices we make for our stories. We doubt the quality of our writing. We wonder if we’ll ever break through into the realm of publication, recognition, and even celebration. We sometimes fret that we’re wasting our efforts entirely in a profession with few to no rewards.
I can be the perfect example of that — inherited from my mother, I guess. She is writing a children’s novel. She has the entire book sketched out but is agonizing over the first sentence. My advice? Skip it and go on. There is no rule that you have to write in a certain order. Figure out what you want to do, write bits when you can, and piece them together later.
Develop a modus operandi and USE it. Rome wasn’t built in a day so don’t expect to produce a book a day.
Think of it metaphorically as a baby: first you have the conception (the plan), then it takes nine months of worry, trials, and tribulations, and finally the day comes — painful, but you have a beautiful baby (a book).
Rachel Scheller from Writer’s Digest.com has some great examples:
Not long after his novel Hold Tight debuted at #1 on the New York Times best-seller list, Harlan Coben was speaking to a crowd of suspense readers. He was asked if, with all his success, he still felt insecure with any part of his writing. He laughed and admitted that’s the writer’s stock in trade. Coben said he always gets to a point in a work-in-progress when he thinks, “This is terrible! I used to be so good. When did I lose it?”
In fact, if you’re not insecure about your writing, Coben says, you’re either mailing in forgettable stuff or somebody else is writing for you.
You will worry if you are a writer. Turn that worry into writing.
I explained that at the bottom, where most of the people are, is the realm of the “want to.” Or “think I have a book inside me.” But outside of some scribblings, maybe a short story or two, perhaps an unfinished novel, these people never move on to the next level …
… which is where people like you are (I told her). Those who actually try to learn something about writing. Who buy writing books, go to conferences, take classes … and write.
Above that is the level for those who actually finish a full-length novel. This is a great place to be. This is where real writers come from.
The next level holds those who write another novel, because the first one is probably going to be rejected. They do this, because they are novelists, not just someone who happened to write a novel.
Next are those who get published. Above that are those who are published multiple times.
At the very top is a Wheel of Fortune. This wheel goes around and lands on a book like Cold Mountain. Or The Shack. No one can control this.
Your job, I told the young woman, is to keep moving up the pyramid. Each level presents its own challenges, so concentrate on the ones right in front of you. As you move up, you’ll notice there are fewer people, not more. If you work hard, you might get a novel on the wheel, and that’s as far as you can get. After that, it’s not up to you anymore.