“Has anyone been afraid to write their own novel?”

This was a question on Reddit not long ago. There was a lot of discussion, and some good personal stories. I thought I’d share my answer. I added some extra notes that I didn’t put on the original post.

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About 10 years ago I got traditionally published (a few articles, some poetry, even a short story) in magazines and zines. I was suppose to get paid, but never actually did. (This was due to some confusion about foreign checks, and my bank which hadn’t ever seen one before.)

Then there was my marriage. It was falling apart around me and I wasn’t feeling confident about anything anymore.

So one part said my writing wasn’t good enough to actually get paid, and there was my marriage that made me feel like I wasn’t good enough for anything.. I ended up quitting writing for 8 years.

Every time I looked at my manuscripts during that time I would freeze up. The ideas were their, the stories were fully formed in my head, but I had been convinced that I could never possibly do it myself. I even went so far as to look into ghost writers or collaborations a few times to no avail.

In the end I had to learn to trust myself again, and my writing. After the divorce I started working on little bits here and there, trying to get myself to work more each day. It wasn’t easy.

I started showing small bits to people, and they encouraged me often. Told me how great it was. Showed me where I could improve. Gave me honest feedback and criticism.

Lets be honest. Your first draft is going to be terrible. It always is. Even Stephen King has to completely rewrite stuff now and then. But that’s what edits are for. (Note I said “edits”, not “editors”. There is a HUGE difference.)

Don’t let your subconscious take away from what you truly love. And don’t let anyone else tell you differently. The mechanics of writing can be learned. It’s the passion, and the gift of a good story, that make a true writer.


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