My clients often tell me that they are afraid.
- Afraid their writing won’t be good enough.
- Afraid of disappointing themselves.
- Afraid they’ll start and not finish.
- Afraid that people won’t like their book.
- Afraid that their idea is not “original.”
- Afraid that they won’t “make it.”
- Afraid that cat-aliens will take over their computer in the middle of the night and write a better book than they could. (Okay, no. I made that one up.)
I wrote my first book when I was 12. It sucked. Started my second one when I was sixteen and it took forever to finish. In between starting and finishing the second, there have been 9 others. Each one is a learning experience. Each one is flawed, but they’re each progressively better than the one before. At any point along this writing journey, I could have given up. Decided that my books just weren’t “good enough,” or that I didn’t have what it took to be an author. I didn’t, because writing is a skill. It’s not magic. You learn to write by writing. You get better by taking the risk to do the thing as best you can, and then learning from your mistakes.
I’ve been writing for close to 30 years now. Reading for longer than that. Every time I’ve seen what I thought was a unique premise (an “original” story idea) I later found out that it had been influenced and inspired by other stories. It doesn’t matter if your idea is “original.” What matters is that you take the risk to write it from a place within yourself that no one else can reach. Then, the experience of your book will be unique.
Some people are not going to like your work. That’s the way it goes when you do art. But other people will, and some of them need your work. It’s on you, writer, to take the risk involved in finding them.
And don’t let the cat-aliens surf Youtube all night.