It’s always exciting to finish the first draft of a story. Finally, you get to say ‘yeah, I did that, I made it!’ and dance around the house full of the joys of spring. And so you should- the very fact that you’ve written a story is an achievement in itself.
But then you put it away for a week or two, forget about it while starting something new, and when you return to it, suddenly that wonderful story full of fantastic characters, rich settings and dramatic story arcs suddenly isn’t so, well, fantastic. So then you decide to redraft it. The writing gets better, but its still not quite how you want it. You go over it again, and this time you get back some of that magic that you felt was in your work before, but this time it really is- you know because you’ve let your friends or other beta readers test it out. The story works, the characters are believable but…but what about that part where your character does something so unnatural for his usual personality? It’s there like a crease in your work, but you can’t simply take it out because this one thing, detailed in a single paragraph or sentence, is actually the start of a chain reaction that ultimately brings that great conclusion you’ve worked so hard on into play.
Do you go back and alter that character’s personality, so that when that fateful moment arrives, their actions are no longer so unnatural, but risk sabotaging his relationship to the other characters? Or do you focus on adjusting that part by having another, minor character take his place, and so rewrite the entire ending afresh?
You go over your work yet again looking for a viable solution, and then again, and again, until you realise that you no longer have any idea if your story is interesting anymore. Your words seem flat and uninspiring, and when you read another author’s work, you just can’t help but compare them. You come back thinking, ‘this is so creative and absorbing, how can I compete with that?’
Curious, you look the author up, and with great surprise you find in their bio or blog that they had times when they thought about their work in the same way you’re now thinking about your own.But they pushed through their self-doubt and decided to go ahead and put their work out into the world just on the chance that someone might like it.
You think, ‘if they thought that about such an amazing piece of writing, maybe my work isn’t as bad as I think. Who knows, maybe readers will love and be inspired by my work someday too!’