Beginnings are hard

I think I’m making a bit of headway with that beginning that’s giving me so much trouble, but I’ve had a couple of those days where you look at the screen in utter despair because it’s boring and no one will get past that first page and nothing you’ve done has fixed it and there’s nothing you can do that will fix it and why would anyone want to write this sort of nonsense, let alone read it, in the first place? When I’m feeling that bleak, I write a little anyway and call it a day. Usually by the next day, I’m over it and excited about the story again. Or at least game enough to push some more words around. But when you’re deep in the writer’s pit of despair, it’s hard to remember that. Those are the times when I really appreciate getting a pep talk.

The latest pep talk I’ve listened to was an episode of Writing Excuses with the most excellent title: This Sucks And I’m a Horrible Writer. After a bit of tomfoolery, they tell a great Neil Gaiman story about how three quarters of the way through Anansi Boys, he called his agent to tell her how bad it was. Her response? You do this every time. His? Oh. And then he finished the book.

It happens to everyone.

As they point out, when you’re deep in the middle of writing a story, it’s really hard to tell whether you think it’s terrible because something is wrong, or whether you just think it’s terrible. The only way to be sure is to let someone else you trust read it. Your writing group. Your first reader. Even yourself a month later. But before you can get to that, you have to finish what you’re writing. If you think it’s bad, make a note and fix it later. Maybe when you come back, it won’t be as bad as you thought.