I know the feeling. Whether you’re trying to finish your first novel or your fifth, every writer knows about that constant, nagging doubt inside your head.
This book isn’t any good.
I’ll never finish it.
I’ll never get published.
No one will ever read my book.
Don’t listen to those doubts. Stay the course. Continue to write because you love it. Hold on to the hope of your dreams. Have faith that if you continue to work hard at writing, you will in fact find that book finished, that essay published, that project completed. It’s easy to doubt! Let go of its hold and grab the reigns of your aspirations.
As authors, we are often asked, “Why did you first start writing?” or “Why do you write?” The typical answer that most authors give, myself included, is some sort of anecdote about a deep-rooted love of writing or a long-held passion for storytelling that we’ve possessed since we were young. And while this is in fact true, it doesn’t seem to get to the heart of the matter.
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We do enjoy telling stories. Taking a passionate life event or a spectacular action sequence and committing it to the page in an effective and compelling manner, is the great challenge of the writer. The goal is to communicate to the reader. Trying to accomplish this in a way that is captivating, is what all writers seek. But the question still remains—Why do we write?
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The fact that we enjoy storytelling doesn’t necessarily shed light on why we write. There seems to be something much more fundamental to the human experience that compels us.
Good writing is proven through the ability to write well, rather than the ability to come up with great ideas. A fine writer can compose a good story because she has good ideas that are the foundation of that story. But great writers are able to take the most mundane subjects and write marvelously about them. The distinguished writer G.K. Chesterton, for example, has written essays on topics as banal as boredom and resting, and they are extremely thought-provoking and entertaining essays. Good writing doesn’t need a good story. On the other hand, poor writing can destroy a great idea.
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The key for great writers is that they can capture a reader’s attention with the simplest of subjects just because their writing is extraordinary. When first starting out, too many writers have an interesting idea or a persuasive plot line, and they simply begin to write. They fail to realize that a persuasive plot line does not make a good writer. As writers, we need to learn to write well and worry about the interesting ideas later.
The goal of the writer is to communicate to the reader, whether through a story, a novel, an essay, a poem, or any other form of written word. As writers, we’re trying to communicate, and great writers have perfected this mode of communication.
The human species is a communicative being and, as such, we are all searching for people with whom to communicate. Whether it is with our family and friends, our coworkers and neighbors, or just the barista at the local coffee shop, we long to express even just a little part of ourselves. We yearn to be seen, and to be understood. Because of this, we strive to see others as well. Call it an extension of the Golden Rule—we try to understand those around us because we, ourselves, want to be understood.
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At the root of things, this is why we write. We hunger to see and be seen; to understand and be understood. We write to preserve a memory, to sustain a thought. Without it, we fear we will become forgotten.
Always remember why you write. Remind yourself of it early and often. If you can hold onto this, your doubts will fade away. You will always have faith and hope nearby. And along with your faith and hope, you can strive for your dreams.
Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.