[Archive] Second-Guessing


Original post date: February 3rd, 2013
Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Second-guessing. Doubt. That which afflicts every writer at some point or another. I’m just asking the same questions other authors ask themselves at certain stages in their writing. Is this going to be good enough? Will people really want to read what I’m writing? Can I even finish it like this? Should I just start over?

These hauntings affect us all differently. Some people give in to them immediately, and they really do start over, writing the beginning to the same story over and over. Or, they scrap it altogether and try another one, only to put that down, too. The worst victims are the ones that decide to end their writing careers and move on to some other dream.

Even when people do finish, they eventually look back at their work and scream in frustration: how could I not see it? This isn’t going to cut it! These people often go through the same set of responses that in-progress authors do, rather than face the horror of revising.

I’ve started over countless times. I think part of it is that I was never truly sure of what I was doing, no matter how many times I wrote it and presented it to the world. When you read a book, it seems like that’s the only way that the author could have told that same story, but the truth is, there are an infinite number of ways to “remix” the same characters with the same issues and the same inevitable confrontation. Out of these, only a handful are on a path to something that will be successful.

The question, then, that every author is really asking is: Have I found the right way to tell my story this time?

All our second-guessing and doubt comes from fearing that the answer to that question might be no. And, even after learning from the pros and writing more drafts than I care to count, I still have that fear, too. Until I can conquer that fear, either by confirming that this draft is the right one or by working the story to that point where it is, there’s no guarantees that I can make.

Today’s question might be a difficult one, but if you can, leave a comment: what doubts are you most afraid of?


4 thoughts on “[Archive] Second-Guessing

  1. I kind of feel that way too, but at some point you have to plunge ahead or you’ll repeatedly be sent back to start.
    Of course it’s harder when you have nine novels planned where each is quite involved with each other, because then you feel if one is a letdown the rest are pulled down with it.

  2. I guess having high expectations for my first novel is probably a big part of it. When this comes out again, it’s going to be the book that launches my writing career, for better or for worse. And it sure as hell ought to be for the better.

  3. Oh, man. Doubt plagues me all the time. My biggest fear is that people won’t ‘get’ the messages I’m trying to convey through subtle details and weird extended metaphors. I also definitely have doubts about anyone wanting to read a book that is 95% character development and %5 action (which is what tends to happen to all of my novels!).

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