By Eve Langlais
When Kobo approached me for an article I jumped on it because how cool is that, to be asked to write something to share with my peers? Then . . . my demon (ugly little sucker with sharp claws) began to nag. Browsing their blog I noticed all these fabulous articles on how to increase sales, write better stories, all kinds of wonderful tips. What could I share that people would find worthwhile? Am I really an expert in anything? Doubt gnawed at me, its demonic sharp teeth chewing at my self confidence.
Because here’s the thing, despite having written for a while, I still deal with doubt. Every. Single. Book.
So why do I write? The thing is I start out each story feeling wonderful. The words are flowing and I’m getting to know the characters (who are usually pretty cool). The story is unfolding and I’m thinking, ‘Oooh, this is going to be epic!’ Then, I hit the dreaded middle. The holy shit, I wrote myself into a corner, my entire premise is boring, my characters are flat, no one will ever read this. What was I thinking? This is an epic failure.
Sound familiar? I wouldn’t be surprised, that damned demon of doubt does likes to get around. He gets off on making us feel uncertain. Sometimes, he even brings along his friend, discouragement, a nasty critter with an insidious whisper that usually says, ‘Why bother finishing it? No one will want to read it.”
At times that feeling can be crushing. But here’s the thing. You can’t let that demon of doubt win. You have to finish the book, no matter what. Keep in mind, it’s easier to give up than it is to sit your ass in that chair and finish what you started.
I hear you saying “but . . . ” No buts. Grab your sword and get ready to slay that evil monster.
The story feels lackluster? Then start over from the beginning, re-reading and editing along the way. Become one with your characters, and the story. Add more dialogue. Throw in an action scene. When all else fails, blow something up. (It might not go with the story, but it’s sure as heck fun.)
Hit a roadblock? Wrote yourself in to a corner? Don’t scrap everything, but I would suggest stepping away from the story. Do something to relax, like go for a drive and hash it out with a friend (while drinking an icy hibiscus beverage from a certain chain coffee shop). Have a hot shower (I’ve gotten some of my best ideas there). Even playing a mindless video game can be the soothing thing you need to let your creative juices unlock and figure it out.
Rather than stress, skip over the tricky section and go to the next chapter and the next. Hell, sometimes even writing the epilogue, the conclusion you’re aiming for, will give you that AHA moment.
No matter what, don’t let doubt win. Finish the story. Even if you think it’s dreck. Finish it. Because the funny thing is, sometimes the story you sweated over, the plot you declared ridiculous, the characters you grew to hate, are good. Sometimes better than good. As writers we are sometimes too close to see the good parts in the story. Too emotionally invested to truly be able to judge our own work.
What’s funny about doubt was I used to think my demon only tortured me. Surely no other writer felt this way. And then some friends told me about a term they’d heard at a conference. Imposter Syndrome. Look it up. I did and realized what I felt was normal (and not demons after all, thus negating my need for a ton of holy water and an exorcism). If you’re suffering from it too, then guess what, you are not alone, but even better, know that when the demons come knocking, you can turn to your peers for help in slaying them.
Here are some great articles about the imposter syndrome that will give you tips on how to fight this insidious demon.
Eve has a twisted imagination and a sarcastic sense of humor. She is well-known for her shifter stories, but also is partial to demons, aliens, and cyborgs. Despite her adventurous stories, she swears that she is boring as a stay at home mom juggling three kids, a hubby, housework, and a mean game of Candy Crush.