The Writer and Doubt
Deciding to become a fiction writer, is deciding to step into a world of doubts. It’s easy to convince yourself that you could write a novel, and it’s easy to convince yourself that you can’t write a novel. That’s the thinking that causes so much heartache amongst so many writers.
Creating a story is about making decisions. What are your characters saying and doing? You have to decide. If you spend too much time deciding you’ll end up with a headache and probably turn up in the same place you started. And that can be depressing.
Write what you Think and See
If you write Detective stories and novels, or short stories, or if you like to create works that reflect the roller-coaster of human existence, then you will be dealing with the emotions of human beings caught up in traumatic situations. And it’s your job to get them out of those situations, hopefully unscathed or at least having learned something. You have to be a bit of a psychologist to be a writer – if human nature and how the brain works and why we do what we do doesn’t float your boat, you shouldn’t be writing about human beings. What else is there to write about?
Deciding what to write isn’t the problem. The problem is often trying to live the life of a writer. To be successful as a writer isn’t as easy as 1,2,3. Not at all. On the other hand, it isn’t easy working in a humdrum job, day in and day out – that’s tough. The life writing offers seems so much more exciting and rewarding. It is. Just go and find out.
How do we find out if this life of writing is for us?
Well, for a start, just dive in and start writing.You’ll discover lots of joys. And you will also find yourself in totally new terrain. What does that mean?
It means that you’re going to find your head is full of questions, after you get over the initial excitement. You’re going to discover that the wonderful and natural talent that you have as a writer is beginning to rear its head and threaten you with disasters. Questions pop up left, right and centre. Soon, you begin to doubt your talent. And for many it’s enough information to quit forever and spend the rest of their lives sitting in the pub telling their friends about their short lived exploits as a writer.
Many of them occur to writers. Writers spend their time courting doubts and doing so with an innate knowledge that they will discover something interesting to write if they edge their way closer to the precipice of their minds. The place where thoughts slumber in darkness. The writer prods them with their spear and when they awaken, he or she is faced with doubts about abilities and knowledge of how to use these thoughts and turn them into interesting and enjoyable stories for the world to read.
If you like,you can change your job title from Fiction Writer to Doubting Thomas. It might work. People spend their whole lives in doubt about their own existence. The internet with its offers of immediate gratification and access to information can also offer the advice of the millions of self-proclaimed experts in one field or another; when I started in the world of work, anybody who proclaimed themselves to be an expert would be laughed at. You just don’t do that – unless you want to be caught out and ridiculed. Unfortunately, our world today, is full of experts, gurus, masters and even the odd messiah lurking in the shadows of the internet.
These people love to give advice. You ask and they’ll tell you the three steps to success – for a price.
They’ll even make it sound attractive and tell you that it’s easy to be successful, you just need to know the secret. Often, if you give these people a good long look you discover that they are selling the same package as everybody else; Success. Did it ever occur to you that nobody can sell you success?
If writing is your bag, then be a writer. Go find out, take a risk and teach yourself. Here’s some free advice from me – it’s free and doesn’t guarantee success, but it does work.
Clear Intent of Purpose
If you commit to writing a novel or a short story and use determination and persistence to see it through, you will discover for yourself what it takes to be a writer and how to write – very often, we discover how not to write, too.
Success is not what you are looking for – How do I know this about you?
You are a human being, just like me. I write and that means I observe people and actions and results of those actions. I see that we are all very similar and each experience, although different, tends to be encountered and handled in a similar manner by each human being. If you fall into the trap of believing that you need to study success to become successful, then get ready for a long ride, because there are plenty of gurus and experts out there ready to take you on a magical mystery tour that will cost you a pretty penny.
The best advice that other people can give others is be determined and stay persistent; take those two seriously. Those two characteristics are very human. They are not something missing from your genes or DNA, you have them already and you just need to use them. Don’t try and buy them on the internet.
And by the way, success is the same as the finishing line. It isn’t a verb, or an on going situation to enjoy. Success is a static idea that leads nowhere. So what is it that we are seeking when we encounter the newness of our lives, like writing for the first time and onwards?
We are always looking for the route to follow. The way is the joy of life. As we progress and encounter the doubts that plague the mind we are simply trying to discern which way to go. We are not asking when we should stop (success). We don’t want to stop.
Writing is as other things in life. It’s an activity that we deem important because we say so. Being a master motor-mechanic is important because the motor-mechanic said so. That’s all there is to it. Don’t sweat it, just do it and enjoy the ride that you create and write about for yourself.