Every writer gets to a place in their story where they question the value of their words. Is the story good? Will it engage the reader? Are my characters deep enough? Is there enough action to move the story forward?
This is the writer’s stress. The self-doubt that always creeps in. I picture it as a little shadow person, crawling toward the Muse, who is laboring away in an act of devotion.
The Muse bows at the keyboard, pouring soul and spirit into the words on the screen. The shadow creeps closer, its hands outstretched, clawing fingers ready to strangle. Its mission is to kill the muse. Its name is Doubt.
We can freeze at this point, knowing that Doubt is crawling toward us. It is waiting to strangle our Muse. Its goal is to get us to stop writing, to lose faith in the story, to kill the act of creation.
Or, we can tell ourselves, “I’ll fix all that stuff later, this is just the first draft,” have faith in our basic story, and follow our Muse until it types “The End.”
I’m there now. I have exceeded my NaNoWriMo goal of 30,000 words. The story is, maybe (I have to discuss that with my Muse yet) three-quarters done. I realize that there are at least one, possibly two, more books in the series. (That both excites and terrifies me.) All of the usual doubts now surround me, and I have to keep telling myself that this is just the first draft.
Do my characters need strengthening? Yeah, definitely, some more than others. Is there enough action in the story? I have concerns about that, but also some ideas of how to fix it…later. I do think it’s a strong story, with plenty of underlying peril awaiting my protagonist and her world if she doesn’t succeed in her mission.
However, though this all, my main motivation to flip off the Doubt Shadow and keep writing is that I’m having fun. It’s a story that is essentially writing itself, as I had absolutely no clue where I was going on Day One, when I typed “Taratir was cranky today.”
Now, I know where I’m going, and how to get there, but it was my protagonist and her connection to the Muse that led me here. I can only hope that the pair of them did a decent job, and I’ll soon have a good first draft that I can continue to work with. I’ll drown all of the little niggling doubts later. For now, I’m just totally enjoying the journey.