The following blog appeared on my author website on 28 March and is re-posted here.
In my last blog, I discussed one of the biggest obstacles to writing that novel you always wanted to write — finding [or allocating] the time to do it.
The second obstacle to Getting Started on Your Fantasy Novel that I want to deal with is self-doubt!
I’m not good enough to do that or I really want to write a fantasy novel but I just don’t have the talent to do it. Do these thoughts sound familiar?
NewsFlash: We all have them – or have had them!
Here’s just one of thousands of examples, from Paul Tremblay, whose book, A Head Full of Ghosts, won the 2015 This Is Horror Novel of the Year:
“I struggle with self-doubt every time I sit down to write. Its severity fluctuates, but it’s always there, and some level of it should be there, frankly. I think it’s healthy. I’d be more worried about myself if I thought that when I sat down manna was about to pour out of my fingers (eww… and that would be messy, wouldn’t it?). Every writer is different but doubt, at times, drives me, and makes me want to get better.”
Interesting! Paul, an accomplished author, still has doubts. More than that, rather than finding them a hindrance, Paul seems to embrace them. He uses them. They help him strive to keep on improving.
But what’s the worst that could happen anyway? You write that novel, you give it your best shot, and no one likes it.
If that’s the worst that could happen, you will still have achieved one very important thing. You will have scratched that itch. You will have written your very own fantasy novel!
Hopefully, if that is what happens, you won’t then just give up. Hopefully, you will learn from that first experience and sit down and write another one — only better this time.
“Agatha Christie completed her first manuscript at the age of 22. She submitted to many publishers only to receive a stream of rejections. She sought the advice of a family friend writer Eden Philpots who introduced her to his own literary agent who rejected the manuscript but suggested she write a second novel. Agatha Christie’s first novel was never published. Her second novel was also repeatedly rejected before being finally published on the agreement that she change the ending. Agatha Christie went on to have a prolific career writing 72 novels and 15 short-story collections.”
But what about the potential positive outcomes?
Putting aside the prospect that what you write might be a masterpiece and you might become as rich as J. K. Rowling [Or even richer. Hey, if you’re going to dream then dream big. After all, it’s your dream!], what if you’re simply really happy with the result?
You spend months reviewing and polishing the completed work and either find a traditional publisher or decide to go down the indie publishing path. Your book gets printed and your first published copy arrives in the mail.
As someone who has been there, I can tell you — that is a great feeling! The sense of accomplishment when you get to that point is pretty intense.
“The moment I held my book in my hands—my actual work, in physical form, in my hands, was indescribable. (Is that a word? Oh well.) I had to pick up my books at the bookstore, and the bookseller handed me a copy and I swear I felt tears well up in my eyes. All of your hard work, abstract concepts, words on a page—now made concrete. It’s amazing.
Publish your book. Whether you feel it needs more work or it isn’t long enough or it’s not good enough, publish it anyway. Even if you only have author’s copies. You can always tweak it later. But the feeling of accomplishing it is beyond compare.”
Alison Moxley, quora.com
I asked the question above: What’s the worst that could happen? You write that novel, you give it your best shot, and no one likes it.
That’s not the worst that could happen. The worst that could happen is that you have this dream, this urge, call it what you will, to write a fantasy novel, or any other genre for that matter, and you never give it a go!
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.”
J. K. Rowling
So, get to it. Start writing. Take the risk. Follow your dream. The rewards will be worth it.
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