The Self-Doubt of a New Writing Project

With slight trepidation I begin my next major writing project: an hour and a half dramatic production for my drama team, The RLT Players.

This is the fifth year in a row that I’ve written a full-length show for them. You would think that it gets easier or that the confidence of putting on wonderful shows in the past would mean something as I begin this new writing endeavor, but it doesn’t.

Each one is a battle with words. Each one is a battle with ideas. Each one is a battle with doubt.

Can I really do this again? Can I improve on what I’ve done before?

No one wants to slide backwards and create something that wasn’t as good as a year ago.

These are the thoughts that slip back and forth in my mind as I get ready to write.

What’s a writer to do? There is only one thing: persevere and move forward. One word after the other. It’s what writers do, even when they aren’t convinced that what they are writing is really up to par.

But what I think or feel doesn’t matter. All that matters is the time and dedication that I devote to my hands against the keys.

So let doubt rear its ugly head. When it does, I know that I’m on the verge of creating something new, something wonderfully new and unpredictable. I’m on course to add to the ideas and thoughts which have been formulating in my head for the past several months. This is the time to let it all come out, regardless of result or acclaim or high criticism.

A writer is meant for only one time: writing time.

What to do when your manuscript punches back

Return the favor.

I had one of those semi-successful, yet only semi-successful writing sessions this afternoon. I was ready to go, working on a play this time, seemingly knowing what I was going to do with these scenes when all of the sudden …

Bam!

The manuscript hit me right in the nose. Undaunted, I put my head down and plucked away at those keys trying to let the story know who was boss. Then it happened again.

Bam!

“Okay, I get your point, but I still think this should happen.”

Bam!

It asserted itself like any championship fight not held rather recently. Finally, it had my attention, and it forced me to listen. What I was writing wasn’t going to work.

My character was saying one thing but my words were saying another. I just wanted to continue on obliviously, hoping it would all work out, but manuscripts are funny. They are in control, and if you don’t listen to them, you will end up with a bunch of insincere dribble. Yes, it may cost you a lot of time, but is the price of your writing soul so easily cast aside?

I think not. So here’s what to do when your manuscript hits back:

1) Listen to what it’s telling you. You most likely already know that it isn’t working. Be honest with yourself. Rewind and try something new.

2) Be happy. Your manuscript is like your conscience. It knows things that you don’t yet want to realize. Be happy that you have a little friend who is telling you that your writing stinks and that everything is all wrong.

3) Punch back. Dig down and tell that manuscript that it may have won today’s round, but that you will be back, smarter, more agile, and with more weapons in your arsenal. Don’t let a manuscript defeat you after a few short jabs to the jaw – or writing arm. Wait it out and knock it out of the park (if I can mix my sports metaphors).