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The Hubris of Writing -- by Karla Brandenburg

I should start by saying that if you want to write a book that people will read, you shouldn’t use big words like “hubris.” (that from my mother-in-law)

As authors, there is always a moment of “who do I think I am?” when writing a book. Of “this story sucks, no one will want to read it.” And yet we put our hearts and our souls into the people and places we create on the page. Let me send this message loud and clear. If you are taking the time to write it, if you are taking the steps to hone your craft, the only way you will succeed, in the end, is by believing in yourself. Instead of telling yourself you have no business trying to be an author, try telling yourself you have every right to be an author.

I have found that one of the biggest motivators for me when I hit that inevitable mid-story self-doubt is to read a book and realize that “I can write that well,” or “my story is at least as good as that one.” (Keep in mind, I only feel confident telling myself that with traditionally published books, but trust me, there are plenty that fall into this category.)

Reading a well-crafted book also motivates me to model my writing after something exceptional. One of the books that moved me the most was “Dragonfly in Amber,” by Diana Gabaldon. Her character sketches make you want to reach out and touch them, they are so three-dimensional. That book reminds me that every detail is important, and if I want people to relate to my characters, I have to include every facet, every visual, every attractive attribute along with every flaw. Another example of excellent writing is Stephen King. He gets all the details down.

With that being said, it is also important, as an author, to recognize when your story is flat and not going anywhere. Is it boring even you, the author? Then stop to ask yourself these questions: What is the theme? The plot? The goals, motivation and conflict of the characters? Even multi-published authors will write a clunker from time to time (ask Jennifer Cruisie!)  As I struggle through my current WIP, I told one of my writing partners that I was worried I was including too much detail. She asked me if it was moving the plot forward, and you know what? I could truthfully answer yes, so I’m powering past the niggling doubts. If it doesn’t work, I can always cut it later.

Don’t get in your own way. Every author hits a mid-book slump. What makes you think your book is worth writing? If it’s important to you, it’s important to write. Writing is rewriting. If you want to author a book, it’s work. HARD work. For authors who get published, it’s a long journey from the joy of inspiration, to the excitement of the creative process, to the despair of finishing and the pain of editing. If you can get through all those steps, then the answer to “who do I think I am, trying to write a book?” is answered. You are an author. It takes a lot of “stick-to-it-iveness” and a thick skin to withstand the constructive criticism. 

Posted by Karla Brandenburg 4 Mar 2014 at 01:29
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