Seriously, this was me a couple of years ago. I was sure I’d be awesome at storytelling because I write every day for a living and everyone was always saying how great I was at it…..
So I sat down one day and started to write. I really had no idea of plot, characters, voice and all that stuff. I just decided I’d pick it up as I went along because that’s what I did with everything else so it would be fine.
After a few months of trying way too hard and producing lots and lots of mediocre stuff I wouldn’t pay to read myself, I decided I was rubbish at it and banged my head on my desk in despair. How could I be so useless when I was so great at it at school? Hmmm, primary school that is and come to think of it I only ever managed a 19 out of 20. My whole existence at that time was built on getting a 20 but it never came. So maybe I wasn’t as good as I thought I was and I’d merely been kidding myself all this time.
I stopped writing. I literally stopped and thought okay Rachel, just accept it; You can’t do this. But I have never been good at accepting anything because I have an inner voice that just won’t shut the hell up. It kept telling me to try again but I kept ignoring it because it was annoying. It was clear I couldn’t write fiction to save my life so I was giving the whole idea up and anyway I was far too busy with work and other stuff…..
Then one day I just had this notion. It was like a wake up call I suppose. It seemed so obvious and I couldn’t understand why it had taken me so long to see it. I just had to be more like me. I had to stop trying to write the way I thought I should write, the way I thought grown ups would write. I had to just let it happen and stuff it if it wasn’t conventional.
The scariest thing about this was what I read from various authors online. I had to delete everything I had written up to that point. Considering it was all a pile of crap it shouldn’t have been such an issue but I had taken months to produce that rubbish and I was attached to it in some weird obsessive sort of way. Like maybe it wasn’t so bad after all. But it was, well not bad just not very good. If I wouldn’t pay to read it why should I expect someone else to?
So I hit Control and A and then……DELETE. Fuck, that was it. All gone. Now I had to be bloody good or think of something else exciting to do with my life.
I started to write the very next day. I couldn’t do it right after hitting delete as I was still a bit shaky and wondering whether I’d just been impulsive like usual and done something I’d live to regret. I am good at that.
Oh my God, I found a voice from nowhere. Where the hell did it come from? I’d written three whole pages and when I read it back I thought someone else had come into the room, knocked me out and written it for me.
After this turning point it became almost easy for me. I get that my style won’t appeal to everyone but now I know the secret. Find your own voice and come up with a story that you would like to read. Make sure the reader wants, no needs to turn the page because they just have to know what’s going to happen next. Personally I can’t plot my story. I have it in mind and I know where I’m going with it to a point but I don’t plan every chapter because that’s just not me. I wouldn’t be able to even if I wanted to. Sometimes the ending is a bit different than I originally planned but that’s because a story develops as you write and I don’t think you have to stick to something if something else works better.
So don’t give up if you feel you are destined to be a writer. If there’s a nagging voice inside of you telling you that this is your future then listen to it. I think it’s called intuition or something. I used to ignore it in favour of something else. My ego maybe? But that always gets it wrong. I try never to listen to my head anymore, it gives me duff information. It tells me I should do things my intuition says will be bad for me and can’t do things I want to do because I’m not good enough.
A nagging feeling shouldn’t be ignored because it will never go away. You’ll be plagued with what if’s for the rest of your days. I think not trying is failure. Don’t stop unless you just don’t want it anymore. If it makes you happy and you love it then keep doing it.