I hate my inner critic. I really, REALLY hate him. I’ve managed to reach the point where I only have 3 – 4 more chapters to write after which I will be happily able to say “I finished it! I finished my 2nd book!”
That was the moment my inner critic struck and messed things up. And that moment is when the previous joyful statement turns into something like, “yeah, but look what a mess you’ve made. Story sucks, plots sucks more, characterisation sucks even more, overall product sucks the most.” And then the unwillingness to continue comes along. From writing 3.5k words a day, I go down to 1.5 and writing becomes a chore.
I really, REALLY hate that inner critic. It takes all the fun away. I blame my perfectionism that sometimes runs in my veins, especially when it comes to writing.
In liue of that, I figured I might give you my take on what I do to battle these defeatist feelings, though be warned, I have yet to achieve a victory against them.
1. It’s a first draft, therefore accept it as it is. I’ve often said to some of you who follow this blog and we have developed a more direct form of communication, not to worry about a work being sucky or below expectations simply because first drafts are supposed to be that way; sucky, full of mistakes, full of plot holes, full of everything that could make you throw your computer out the window (or typewriter).
And yet I fail to adhere to this rule. Go figure. It’s still a solid advice, it’s just that my brain fails to remember it when it needs it the most. Kinda like those drivers who shield their eyes when they’re about to be part of a minor accident instead of watching where they’re going and controlling the car, even though their instructors have told them exactly not to do that.
2. It’s good to be strict with your own self-imposed deadlines, but the world won’t end if you stretch them by a few days (yes, I’m talking to you, Chris Sarantopoulos). I have very little doubt that I will be able to finish my WIP (Through Stranger Eyes is the current title, if anyone is wondering) before I start querying my previous book. Especially if I just focus and write 3k words a day. I may stretch my deadline by a couple of days, but it can be done. The thing is, I feel like I’ve exhausted all my fuel, plus the backup fuel I had stored somewhere, and some more I stole from those around me. I’m on fumes here. Bottom line is, as I said in my previous post, sometimes it’s easy to reach your daily quota, sometimes words simply refuse to come. Accept it. That’s the life of a writer, even when it comes to the big names.
3. Don’t panic, revision will save you. Consider revision as a loving and caring mother. We all mess things up from time to time (some of us more than others), but mom is always there to not just chastise us, but also show us the right way. That’s kind of what revision does for you. Even if the new plot line you made up, despite what you had planned and outlined, clashes with every other plot line, relax. You’ll get it fixed a couple of months after you finish your work, after you’ve hid the MS and let it mature. It may take you some more time to patch things up, but it’s okay. Just keep repeating “revision will make things right.” And yes, I’m talking to you again, Chris Sarantopoulos.
4. Trust your ideas. We write fiction because we have ideas to test, and strange worlds and situation to experience. Some will work better than others, some will be utter crap. If you’ve written the latter, look at points 1 and 3. Repeat as often as necessary. Chances are those ideas will spark something. Perhaps a better tangent for your story or a new story altogether.
5. Resist the urge to start another project because “this one is too hard/you suck/you are inexperienced for its complexity yet, etc.” Just put the words down. One word at a time. Neil Gaiman said that. You can’t argue with one of the masters. You can’t revise or improve on something that isn’t there. Let that inner critic shout all he/she wants. If you start an awful lot of projects without finishing any one of them, say because you’re not ready for that project yet, when will you be ready for it? Will you ever be?
Oh well, that’s all for now. Damn you inner critic.