Am I good enough? This is the question I hear the most from authors, especially those starting out. It’s not the question of where does the full stop go, or should I add more dialogue to this scene that plagues them the most. Those answers are straightforward. It’s the simple yet terrifying doubt of whether their work has merit, whether the story they want to tell is ‘good enough’. I’m sure if you’re reading this, at some stage, you have experienced the same thought. Maybe it was fleeting or perhaps it hounded you for days, years or even stopped you from writing altogether. I can’t stop you from feeling fear but maybe I can help you to keep going despite it.
Avoid Comparison Paranoia
We always compare ourselves to what we perceive we should be. Creative work is even more doubt- laden for many as you see your colleagues miles away plastering exciting press releases, bouncy blog posts and tantalizing teasers. They’re rocking it! Aren’t they? Well, maybe they are. But more likely, they too have been victims of their own self-sabotage at one stage of their writing career. There is no boss in this field to tell us where we’re going wrong, or to praise our end product. Our only guidance is from other colleagues, and the feedback gets a bit overwhelming at times. Otherwise, you must reply on your own gut instinct and what you’ve learnt along the way. The first point I would like to make here is that EVERY SINGLE WRITER is in the same position as you.
There’s No Crystal Ball
So … how do you know if your story idea is good enough? How can you tell if it will be loved my many people or make a difference to those who read it? A friend of mine had these same doubts recently. Well, I can tell you the answer. It’s simple and straightforward – you can’t. You can never know the impact your writing will have. JK Rowling didn’t know for sure; Terry Pratchett had no idea; even Stephanie Meyer had no way of knowing. Their books became famous, but there was a chance they could have failed. People could have disliked them for many reasons and the authors had no way of knowing the end result. But they started. And they completed what they set out to do. They told their story, for better or worse. Now I’m not saying throw caution to the wind and just see what happens. An editor, beta readers or writing mentor can all help to guide you with your work and polish it to the best it can be. But no one can read the crystal ball.
Is It Worth The Risk?
In the end, the question is simple: do you risk failure or do you fail to start? Should you keep your story bottled up forever, at the risk of it not pleasing readers or being liked? Or do you tell your story to the world and to hell with the consequences? You’re a writer. Whether you’re published or not, if you have a story to tell then it’s meant to be told. And like the ripples in a pond, somewhere, someplace, it will affect someone. And maybe, just maybe, that one person’s life will change because of it. You have no idea where your story will go … so is it worth doing nothing?
The journey is often more important than the destination. And when you put pen to paper and let your story flow, chances are it already means something to someone: you. Don’t stop before you even start. Tell your tale. Because woven in those words is a piece of you. And you mean something.
About The Author
My name is Katie-bree Reeves, editor of Fair Crack of the Whip Proofreading and Editing. Here in (not so sunny) Ballarat, Australia, I enjoy life with books, coffee and my cats.
I am fully qualified in professional Proofreading and Editing through the Australian College of Journalism, and have worked closely with many authors, both nationally and internationally, on a wide range of genre. My services include critiquing, copy edits, developmental edits and so much more in between.
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