Writing Tips

Oh My God I Can’t Write!

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.


4 thoughts on “Oh My God I Can’t Write!

  1. Best advice I’ve read, honestly. I want to go a different route and I was too scared about getting rid of the things I’ve written thus far. Now I’m going to do it. It feels like I’m banging my head against a brick wall at the moment.

    1. Thanks Karen. Sometimes binning it is all that’s left to do. Maybe (unlike me) write something different first, then you won’t feel so bad about ditching the old stuff that isn’t working for you.

  2. Actually this is true for all things in life. I am not a writer but it resonated with me for a completely different reason.

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