I was recently at Catriona McPherson’s book launch of Dandy Gilver and a Bothersome Number of Corpses, the latest of her crime novels featuring upper-crust sleuth Dandy Gilver. Despite this being the eighth in a hugely successful series, Catriona admitted she never believes the book she is working on is any good. She actually cries, convinced it is truly awful and unpublishable. But, she doesn’t give up on it.
I think maybe some of us are inclined to give up rather than push on with our writing through the bad bits and the boring bits because we have not found the way to ignore our inner critic (until we actually need her when we finally have to tackle the editing of the complete first draft). Or, we listen too closely to the whispering in our ear and start editing before we’ve finished until we have beautifully polished first chapters but have advanced no further. I think it’s why I never enter short story competitions. I listen to the inner critic and never actually finish anything before the deadline.
There must be something in the air about this issue of self doubt and the search for perfection in our writing as a few blogs I’ve read recently have addressed the issue including one on Indies Unlimited. And successful Indie author Lexi Revellian, who has sold well over 50,000 copies of her eBooks, posted some advice on her blog (lexirevellian.blogspot.com) which she copies into her notebook for each WIP. The advice comes in the form of a set of rules from Jerry Cleaver and I am going to try to remember them whenever I think I’m writing rubbish.
- Creating isn't normal reality.
- You will make a mess.
- You must write badly first.
- Mistakes lead to discovery.
- Letting yourself be bad is the best way to become good.
- Everything can be fixed.
- The less you care, the better you write.
- Everything that happens is OK.
- Progress is never even.
- It will get good again—always.
- Keep writing no matter how awful it feels.