Sunday, 26 August 2012

The problem of confidence

So it's been an interesting few weeks. Here isn't the place to go into all that's happened, but it's safe to say that I'm back to square one after a week and a bit where nothing seems to have gone right. And to add insult to injury, I have a day off on Tuesday that I no longer have a plan for. If anyone fancies taking me out for a coffee in the afternoon to stop me from imploding through boredom, editing, or self-reflection, feel free.

I could write, of course. Ideas have been coming thick and fast lately, after a short break in Suffolk got the creative part of my brain working. I've completed one short story, put forward a suggestion for a collaborative project on a graphic novel, started planning a novella in my head, and started to work on another short story. After a long period off form, it feels like some progress is being made. I'm still hopeless at deciding on titles, but that's a weakness I just have to work on. But in the last week the self-reflective streak in me has dominated, thwarting my attempts to write with the little voice that tells me I'm not good enough.

If you asked members of Wrisoc whether I'm a good writer or not, I'm certain they'd reply positively. Some of that may be down to a sense of loyalty, but I certainly hope that not all of their positivity about my writing would be down purely to that. They gave me great feedback on my submission to this year's anthology after praising my two previous works I did for them highly. And the editing work they did on pieces in the past has always been good from my perspective: I've never had to make major overhauls as a result of their input.

But no amount of praise from Wrisoc will ever rid me of the whispering voices that wait for the quiet times between drafts - or sometimes even while I write. Some of the voices assert that I'm a good writer, and that I should be confident in my ability. The other voices constantly analyse my writing style and tell me that it's not what it should be, and that I should give up now. After recent events, it's the latter whisperings that surface every time I sit down to write.

The sum total of words saved this week has been nil.

Something needs to give me a kick-start. Reading Mira Grant's Feed has given me some confidence because I don't see any great difference between her style and my own, other than that mine has a more English base. Watching The West Wing is helping me to think about dialogue and quick interchanges between characters - something that's always been a problem of mine, with my dialogue often being too serious and lacking in the tempo you'd find in real-life conversation.

But without the confidence to write I'll keep on putting down a couple of hundred words and then hitting the command and 'Q' combination to come out of Word. The frustration I feel doesn't help. It contributes to the pressure I feel to produce good quality work in reasonable quantities. And it's counter-productive.

Most writers will feel this way at some point. You don't improve as a writer without being able to reflect on your writing. You can't effectively edit without seeing the flaws in your style. Sometimes we go too far. When we go through crises and feel that we've done something wrong we'll all suffer that voice being hypercritical of our writing. But I don't mind admitting that I'm really struggling to overcome my writing insecurities at the moment, or that I haven't a clue how to deal with it. Any help is always appreciated - especially if Wrisoc want to pander to my needy ego!

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