The past few days have been all about revising the outline of my sci-fi adventure spec. My editor’s pen has been getting quite a workout as I slash scenes and sequences out of the previous draft with wild abandon.
Sometimes inspiration will strike and I’ll come up with something entirely new that not only makes the point even better, as well as open up more possibilities further along in the story. That’s always nice.
But another side effect of all this work is more occurrences of thoughts along the lines of “Is this going to be any good? Will anybody like it? Is working on this even worth it?”
There are so many labels for this sort of thing. Self-doubt. The Impostor Syndrome. Second guessing yourself.
And writers do it to themselves ALL THE TIME. Yours truly included.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Fear of rejection? We put so much work into our material and are afraid people will think it’s trash?
Every writer deals with it in different ways. But the important thing is that you’re dealing with it.
Accepting that somebody probably won’t like it is an important first step. You can’t please everybody, nor should you try to. That faction will always be there.
On the other hand, you might be surprised how many fans you end up getting. While the negative reactions tend to stand out more, they’re usually dwarfed by the number of positive ones. And those positive ones can make quite a difference in eliminating that self-doubt.
You send out your latest draft and hope for the best. Everybody wants glowing and ecstatic reviews, but you should take a more realistic approach and prepare for a variety of reactions. Anything from ‘I loved it!” to “it’s okay” to “just didn’t do much for me”.
And all of those are okay.
There will always be different reactions to your material. It’s how you deal with them that will shape how you choose to move forward.
One option – giving up, and nobody wants that
Another option – continue writing, but not showing it to anybody. Some might take this route, but a majority won’t.
Yet another option – continue writing, and accept whatever the outcome. Probably your best bet.
I recently had an online interaction with a newer writer. They were upset that a query they’d sent got a pass. I explained that it happened all the time, and that it was all part of the process.
Their response was “I just need someone to believe in me”. I told them that the first person who had to do that was themselves, and that if they did that, others would soon follow.
You need to be your biggest fan. If you don’t believe in yourself or your writing, why would somebody else?
So circling all the way back to my current project – I’m admittedly still a bit anxious about all the usual stuff, but I will admit to having a lot of fun writing it. This is the kind of story I love to write AND see, and I need to embrace that mindset. It’s easy to spot when a writer’s love of their story and the material is one the page, which is what I’m shooting for.
Hopefully future readers will pick up on that, thereby influencing them for the better.
So to all the writers out there – may your next writing session be as fun, enjoyable, productive, and inspiring as possible.
You’re stronger and more resilient than you think, even when you don’t think you are.