A question we have all asked ourselves at one time or another. Some may ask it still. I know I’ve asked it of myself more times than I can count. I have asked it in all parts of my life, but the biggest has always been… Am I good enough to be a writer?
It’s easy to say “yes I am”, but it’s harder to actually believe it. Like deep down believe it. In your gut believe it. That’s a whole lot harder to do, because saying it isn’t the same thing as believing it. Trust me, I know. You probably know it too.
But wait! It counts if someone else says it, right?
You are good enough!
You are great!
You are amazing!
You are rocking it, so keep on going!
Once upon a time, I lived for these type of statements from my friends or other people I knew. I needed to hear these things and hear them often to feel I was worth anything. Yes, I had some serious self-esteem issues. The worst of all was whether or not I was a decent writer. That particular idea plagued me in terrible ways not so long ago.
As a writer, being a creative person is a pretty big deal. We pride ourselves on how creative we are and yet there are times when we feel we just aren’t creative enough. It’s sort of a Ping-Pong match between the two. Some days it’s one, and a whole lot of other days, it’s the other. There have been quite a few times when I personally felt like I lost the game all together. Many times I found myself asking “Am I creative enough to be a writer?” or “What can I do to be more creative?”. In the end though, maybe it’s more of a question of how can we be the right amount of creative to accomplish our goals?
I want to tell you a story. Something that happened to me over the last few years that changed my life forever (causing me to abandon my blog for awhile too — sorry!) and made me see things in a little different light, especially concerning the way creativity works.
“Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.” — Natalie Goldberg
Being a writer is a complicated thing. We love to write for the sake of writing, but we also don’t want to write because some days it is just so hard. But still we write, because not writing is not an option.
So what do we write about? People have different views on this. Some like light and happy stories. Some like dark and depressing stories. Some like gore and horror. Some like aliens and cool technology. Some like hot romance where the girl and guy always have their happy ever after. Some like the never ending thrill. And some like deep and moving characters no matter what the story is about.
But we all wonder… what really makes a good story? What draws the reader to each page to hungrily reach the end? What makes writing such an intense and rewarding process for the writer?
It amazes me. Life. The journey we take. It takes surprising turns and we end up in locations we never thought possible. We have these big ideas of where we want to go. Sometimes we get there and we don’t even know it, because we get so wrapped up in all the craziness that is our life. Sometimes we don’t get there, but we arrived in a place that’s just as good or even better. And we think, “Wow, how did I get here?”
Living a creative life isn’t easy in this world of constant distractions and doubt. We wonder if what we are doing is right. We wonder if we should do this or do that. We fear what others might think if they find out exactly what we want or exactly how we think. We fear judgement and scorn. We fear failure. We fear success. We fear doing the wrong thing.
But even with all this tumbling in the back of our minds, we still feel the need to live our life the way we want to. That pull. That desire to just be us. It’s not just enough to live. We want to live a creative life. We want to be expressive. We want to experiment. We want to try new things. We want to do more than what we are doing. We want to be more than what we are, or maybe just a better version.
We also worry about how much we are getting done. Is our life where it should be? Shouldn’t we be doing more? Shouldn’t we be farther along than we are?
As a writer, I am always learning. I think that’s what I love most about writing — the learning never stops. I am either learning something new about myself and writing as I write, or I stumble across new information as I am looking to learn more about writing. This time it was the latter. Recently on Twitter, I ran across a book recommendation for plotting that I loved so much I had to share it here.
I definitely believe character development is a key element in a story. The more a reader can relate with a character and feel for a character’s journey, the better the book becomes. And this method certainly will help with that!
This book also helped me realize that I’m a Tweener (I always thought myself a straight up Pantser). I do love writing by the seat of my pants. That’s how I get some of my best ideas, but I also know where I’m writing too as well. I have a loose idea of events I need to reach and about where I need those events to happen. Also, I find already knowing my ending is a necessity to writing, even if I don’t know specifics. Just having a good idea of where I need to stop gives me a clear goal to reach for. But after reading Bell’s book I have an even better way to approach my writing. Start in the middle and Pants my way to the beginning and end. I’ll still have those events and goal posts to reach, but I think it will be far easier to get there knowing exactly what the character’s journey should entail.
And you know this book couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I’ve become somewhat stalled on writing the first draft of my second novel. I think this technique will get things churning quite nicely. Thanks Bell. 🙂
It has been a long road since I started writing my novel Blood Feud. The journey began in April of 2012. I remember it well — a month of straight writing where the ideas just flowed like water. They pooled onto the page with little effort as months of thinking about my story and characters finally found a permanent place on the page. My story flourished but my poor family suffered from neglect. So at the end of the month and about 50,000 words later, I took a break. A few weeks later I came back to my marvelous work of art to realize everything I had written was total crap. And that pretty much sums up the next four years. Awesome spurts of writing where words flowed and family suffered just to end up with… yep you guessed it, more crap.
That my friends is the way of the writer as I am sure some of you are quite familiar with.
But something happened in my fifth year of writing. During my sixtieth (and really that’s not much of an exaggeration) rewrite of Blood Feud, the crap fell away and a good story finally started to form. At least to the point where I felt confident enough to send my work to a professional author, editor, and friend (Michael Knost) so he could tell me it was crap too. And to my surprise, he said it was a pretty awesome story.
Books. They amaze me. They captivate me. They are true magic. Imagine this.
You get a new book to read because someone recommended it to you, or the cover just looks freaking awesome, or it’s a promising jewel you happened to stumble upon. It sits there in your lap eager to be read, but the cover, the title, the words splashed across the pages are meaningless. It’s just a book. Like all the other books taking up space on the bookshelf. But you open the cover and begin to read anyways, because it’s calling to you. There’s this pull to open it you can’t quite explain. So you do and you begin to read it.