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Beware the crisis of confidence!

The Rich Writer: Beware the crisis of confidence!

The Rich Writer

How to Thrive on the Writer's Road

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Beware the crisis of confidence!

P1010048 I’ve discovered something. I can’t pay attention to my current opinion of my WIP (the Peru book, or Lu’s Story, as it’s so originally titled) when writing my first draft. As I plug along, getting this first draft down on paper, my judgment about what I’m writing varies more rapidly than the weather here—and that’s saying something, since it’s 68F today, snowed 16 inches three days ago, and is supposed to be blizzarding (and chilly) again tomorrow.

One day, I think I’m writing the best thing ever—and the next, I’m wondering why I think I can even begin to capture this girl’s situation, her emotional or physical journey, or—especially—the details of a jungle I’ve never visited.

If I stop to think about these things, a hundred other doubts are quick to crowd onto the scene: Can I really write contemporary YA? Am I trying to cover too much in this book? Is the relationship between my main character and her companion too sappy? Is it sexist and demeaning? And, by the way, the whole plot premise probably stinks.

Yeah. It’s better not to go there. Those are great questions to ask during revision, but if I start trying to field them all right now, I’m paralyzed. I can’t write.

But—if I duck my head, cover my ears, hum “la-la-la”, and keep on writing? Pretty soon I have another scene written. Pretty soon another plot twist springs to mind, or another character insight, or a deeper understanding of what my book’s really about. I guess all those things are what you’re looking for in a first draft, right?

This week’s goal is to FINISH that first draft, even though I have a pile of editing work to do as well. I’m planning to distribute it to my critique group the beginning of May (yeah, I’m an optimist!) so I’ll need the weeks following to polish it to the point of non-embarrassment. I’ll let you know how I do with my (maybe crazy) goals!

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