My muse guides me through everything I write. She whispers in my ear. She tells me all about the characters. She plays out the scenes for me in my mind as if watching a film of them unfolding in front of me. All this happens in a stream of consciousness somewhere between being awake and asleep. The process happens effortlessly most of the time. After jumping over the halfway mark wall that I almost always encounter, I reach the home stretch with more enthusiasm and love for the project than when I went into it. Isn’t novel writing such a blissful experience?
So there I have on the computer in front of me 110k or more words. I have put it away for a while to get the proper distance from it. I open the file and begin to rewrite and edit it. I have poured over it for a few weeks banishing the bad and trying to emphasise the good. I punctuate, I check grammar, I cut all those redundant words and phrases. I think things are going well. I like what I am reading. I decide to have another read through and that is the point when it happens and it always does happen, I hear that editing voice start whispering to me. That is when writer’s doubt creeps in. I begin to question my abilities as a writer. I question my ideas. I become terrified at the thought of letting anyone actually read what I have written. Isn’t editing such a nightmare?
The editing voice is the evil twin of my muse. Where my muse’s voice encourages me and stays with me every step of the way, the editing voice tells me my work is not good enough then instead of helping me like the muse does the editing voice goes silent leaving me to work through things all on my own.
I am now editing a novel and have hit this point. In the past I have actually stopped working on a manuscript because the doubt has pushed me to the point that I no longer believed in myself or the story. That was a very hard place to be in. The thing is though this time I am determined to fight back. I am using the writer’s doubt to my advantage. I will not let it take over. I had devised a plan to conquer this before I even started editing this novel. I saved my very first draft and then edited a copy of it. I am looking at draft one and the edited one and comparing the two. Now I hate to quote a Virginia Slim’s advert I grew up seeing in magazine but I hear the voice in my head saying, “You’ve come a long way baby.” And it has. This helps me overcome the doubt in the mechanical side of being a writer.
So what next? Because I am still feeling writer’s doubt over the story itself, I have decided I will finish line by line editing as planned whether I think the story is worthy of being read or not. Once I have a handle on the grammar and punctuation stuff, I will send it out to the beta readers. I will let them decide if it is worthy. I just have to suck those feelings of inadequacy up and get over them. I will make sure I pick a good spread of betas who will be able to cast an honest and critical eye over this novel and I will use their comments to finish rewriting and editing. Otherwise this novel will end up in a file and will never get the chance to see a shelf or the inside of a kindle.
Have you ever experienced writer’s doubt and if so how did you overcome it?