Eventually every book about writing gets to the point of saying, “Everybody doubts themselves.” Everyone who wants to put words together sometimes wonders why they even bother because there are millions of books and countless writers and how can I possibly write something to compete with everyone who’s already out there blah blah blah blah blah?
Huh. Why DO we put ourselves through this?
Between that last sentence and this one, I did a mini-deep dig into my memories and remembered that when I was a kid, I would draw comics and write stories and songs to entertain myself. I liked comics and TV and movies and top 40 radio, and I made up my own.
It was fun.
It’s that simple: I like reading blogs and novels and science fiction and mysteries, so I make up my own. The psychology of it all, I imagine, is a trifle more advanced than that, but when I dug down toward the why of it all, I found a little kid who had fun in his own little world of comics and top 40 songs that emerged out of his own pencil. How about that?
So the keys I learned/recalled by picking up the book I had forgotten I’d already read — and by grabbing the pen and starting to write again — are that it’s important to just get started, to form a habit of writing every day, and to get back in touch with the kid who did this for no other reason but to have fun.
The doubts that everyone has — “I’m not good enough” and “nobody wants to read my $#!+” — are byproducts of losing that basic focus. I didn’t share a lot of my homemade comics and songs because, once I’d written them, that “what if it’s not good enough” impulse kicked in — but I didn’t stop making those things as long as I was having fun in my little fantasy world.
When you forget to have fun, you lose touch with the point of writing in the first place. You can be writing something dead serious, but if you’re not enjoying the way words weave together and dance with one another, you’ll end up, if not with a dreary dead tome, than at least with a dreary tome on life support.
Recapture the fun, and watch your writing begin to glow again.