doubt (noun): one of writers’ greatest enemies.
Last month I started to work on a new project. I’d had the idea for this novel for some time, and had begun it a couple of different ways, whenever the mood struck. Who doesn’t love a spontaneous and fruitful burst of creativity? The words were coming easily and I was looking forward to devoting more time to it. My writers’ group kept me moving after that initial rush.
Currently, I am three chapters in and have written a synopsis of all I think will happen thus far. Sounds good, right?
Unfortunately, I have almost no motivation to write more. I’m not as excited about it as I want to be. Add to that the minor tailspin that my recent notes for revision sent me into, and I am fighting a case of Doubt with a capital D.
This new piece is in the same genre as my first, and it’s one that I’m not totally convinced is salable. Of course, that is not the whole picture. Writing my first novel provided my invaluable insight into the worlds of writing and editing. Likewise, whether it’s publishable or not, I can see myself returning to this new project at some point in the future.
But for now, I am thinking seriously about traditional publication. I want to write something I enjoy and something I think offers something worthwhile to the marketplace. In other words, something that can sell. If I’m not excited about this new work-in-progress, why in the world would anyone else be?
The solution: Time. Time to put both projects aside and consider what motivates me. What inspires me. What excites me.
What can I create that will offer greater perspective? What’s not out there that I can add to the canon of contemporary American literature? Ultimately, what do I want to spend my time on?
Taking the time to let go of my current pieces and the desire to get something out to publishers as soon as possible is opening up the doors of my creativity. I have yet another new concept in mind—not one that’s ready to find paper quite yet, but one that has my brain and my heart moving.
I know I need to be writing for the right reasons to produce anything worthwhile. It’s hard to force that when the prospect of publication could be right around the corner—or not. That’s something I need to let go of this week. In its stead, I’ll have a fresh notebook, a new story to consider, and a chance to let my imagination do its thing.
The more excited I get about this new idea, the more motivated I am to go back and finish my revision. Maybe I am capable of writing something worth publishing. Then again, maybe not. But either way, I can choose to write something I enjoy, something that makes me a better writer and a more thoughtful and compassionate person.
The cure for writerly doubt is hope. And published or not, I can have that whenever I want.