I read an interesting article about Patrick Viera that got me thinking. Patrick is a football player (soccer to us Yanks) who has been playing since about 1996 with a top rate club in England, Arsenal. His coach wrote a book about him entitled 'Viera'. Anyhow, his captain says this about him: "The trophies Patrick won with France obviously gave him a lot of confidence. But he's a guy who always has self-doubts. I like the type of self-doubt he has because it produces some very positive questioning. It's not the sort that paralyses you during a game, instead it leads to a process of reflection which makes you self-critical. Patrick always analyses his performance with great lucidity."
That struck a chord with me, because so many writers doubt themselves. They are terribly insecure about their writing. I think it's important to take that self doubt and turn it into something positive. Instead of becoming insecure, a writer should try to become self critical and instead of letting the doubt paralyze you (I do this sometimes, I think 'this isn't right, I can't go on!') You should try, instead, to turn it into a constructive questioning session between you and your book.
Me: "Why am I stuck at this point?"
Book: "Either you have a problem with the character, or you're just being lazy. Try writing three more pages and see how that goes."
Me: "The character can't do what I need him to do.
Book: "Go back and make sure you've given him the ability to do what you want him to do. Maybe you left something out! Check!"
Me: "The plot is getting too complex, I'll never be able to keep all the thread untangled."
Book: "Either make an outline now and take care of all the plot lines, or get rid of the ones that don't forward the story. Is that plot about the race track helping or hindering? Look carefully and remember, 'when in doubt, leave it out!'"
Whatever you do, don't let doubt paralyze you. Try talking to the book and even with the characters. Listen to what they say! Self doubt can be very positive if you ask the right questions!
On way to analyze yourself is to draw up a list of your strengths and weaknesses in writing (as you see them!)
Here is mine:
Don’t like about my writing:
I can procrastinate for ages.
I get too many ideas and become unfocused.
I don’t like to work when the kids and husband are around.
I can’t work unless the housework is done.
I tend to build stories on characters and neglect the plot.
I can’t see my own faults. Thank goodness for beta readers!
My spelling is atrocious.
Do like about my writing:
I have lots of ideas and never feel at loss for a story.
It’s easy for me to create characters and worlds.
I have a good grasp of grammar and construction.
I can outline.
I can work fast and I can work to a deadline.
I don’t panic when I get writer’s block.
My imagination often runs away with me, but I like that.
Now, draw up your own list and see what weaknesses you can banish by using your strengths!