That old feeling crept up on me again. The one that says I’m not good enough, that my lower-starred reviews are telling me to give up, that I can’t force a story out of my head no matter how hard I try.
Sometimes you just wish you could strangle that pessimistic bastard in your head, right? I know I do.
It’s no surprise authors get their nerves in a twist, especially before a new release. Even well-known authors who have scores of well-reviewed books get the jitters, because the new book is, well, new. Different characters, different plot, a whole new world of ways to make readers put your book down and walk away. That possibility is downright terrifying.
Then there’s my current problem – I’m working on the second Donovan Circus book and am having one of those days where I hate everything about it. It’s in its first draft and logically, I know first drafts are allowed to be shit. That’s why it’s only a first draft. But that little nagging voice in my head telling me it’s shit, telling me a 2 star reviewer is right, and telling me to go watch TV instead is still pretty loud and persistent. That little voice is telling me to give up, just for a few days.
I read a blog recently that talked about authors having a strange complex of both thinking they have THE book everyone should read, yet being terrified of everyone reading it for fear of criticism. I think this goes beyond authors into artists in general!
While I hold firm that you can’t please everyone, no matter how well you write, I still say that we need to conquer the fear. Because you know what? If you give up for a day or a month, what’s to stop that from turning into a year or forever? I’ve read several quotes lately about how it’s better to try and fail than it is to never try at all. And I have to say, that resonates.
One suggestion to get over your book blues? Go read your positive reviews. Those good reviews mean you have fans, readers who will probably give your new books a chance because they loved the other one(s) so much. I know it makes me feel good and boosts my writing confidence when I read people saying that I have a future in writing, that they’ll read my next story and can’t wait for a sequel. It gets me excited to put my butt in the chair and write more, because people are clamoring for more of your worlds. Honestly, nothing has been more motivating to me than hearing such kind and enthusiastic words from readers, encouraging me to get on with the next book already.
You’re writing and releasing books because you believe it. You feel confident about it, that it’s a great story with well-developed characters and a plot that will keep you reader going to the next page. And despite whatever reviewers might say, you’re doing this because you love it, not because you expect a large paycheck (at least, I hope that’s why you’re doing it).
My other suggestion to get over that annoying voice is to prove it wrong. Sit down and write, even if you don’t feel like it. Even if you have to force it. Chuck Wendig wrote a great article yesterday about how writing is a job – it’s not about the muse or inspiration. Writing is work, hard work, and in order for the craft to be done, it requires you in that chair, your fingers clacking away at the keyboard. Put words to paper. Even if they’re shit (like my first draft), they’re words. You can go back and edit later to hit the high points, tweak the themes, and round out characters. But until you have that draft, you just have a blank document, sitting there, blinking at you to write. And honestly, isn’t that scarier than the voice in your head?