Sometimes you read a book. It hooks you from the first sentence, and just keeps on getting better. It makes you laugh. It makes you cry. It inspires you to do better, or be better. When you reach the final page, you feel like you’ve lost the best friend you ever had. Then you open your own manuscript, and find that suddenly, from nowhere, an ominous lead ball has miraculously appeared in your gut. You could never write like the author who penned the fabulous book that you’ve just finished reading. In fact, your writing sucks. Big time. And there it is. You can’t write at all anymore. Every sentence is fiddled with. Or worse, deleted. And the next few weeks are spent trying to write just as beautifully as the magical creator of that perfect book that you can’t get out of your mind. But it’s no good. You can’t. At this point quite a few writers give up entirely, their story left to be forgotten—never to see the light of a reader’s smile.

The thing is though, that the author of that magical book probably felt exactly as you did at some point. We all feel that way sometimes. We forget that each and every writer has their very own kind of magic, but I don’t know any writers who can see that wonderful stuff. Their own magic. Writers are by their very nature sensitive. Without natural empathy, wisdom, people-savvy, and a whole lot of general knowledge, they wouldn’t be able to ply their trade very well. Sensitivity tends to go hand in hand with self-criticism a lot of the time too, so we are fabulously capable of metaphorically beating the daylights out of ourselves, without any outside help at all. Unfortunately there is quite a lot of outside help around for any scribbler looking (or even not looking) to be criticised, so we should try really hard not to do it to ourselves. Remember that Stephen King tossed Carrie into the bin, convinced that it was absolute rubbish. If his wife hadn’t fished it out—who knows where he would be today.

Don’t ever let anything stop you from writing until you’re finished. And when you’re finished don’t let anything stop you from getting published, if that is your dream. That’s when you find out whether your book is good or not—only then. And even then, you don’t know the people who will buy your book. You’ll never see the smile on their lips, or hear them laugh loudly at some little sentence that you thought was quite silly, after reading that magic book you found. But that’s alright. We don’t need to know about the readers we may have inspired, or comforted, or irritated for that matter. We just do what we must, and write on.

Writing