I had a very “up and down” day yesterday. One minute I felt I knew what I was doing as a writer, and the next, I was realizing how much more I needed to learn. For a good couple of hours my inner beast gave me a beating for not succeeding at something I’d attempted, until I remembered something an author recently said.
The author is David Baldacci (you may have heard of him…) If you are one of the few people on the planet who hasn’t, you can check his website out here: http://davidbaldacci.com/ David was one of the keynote speakers at the Writer’s Digest Conference I attended last month in New York City.
Now while Mr. Baldacci is one of my mother’s favorite authors, I must admit, I have not read any of his books. However, when you get the chance to listen to a best-selling author speak (and I know the term “best-selling author” is thrown around a lot these days but, hey, this guy has written and sold a gazillion books), then there’s a chance you might learn a thing or two if you listen. Anyway, David said something which resonated with me. He said:
“Fear is a great antidote to complacency. The day you think you know what you’re doing as a writer, is the day you should quit”.
What? Even authors who have more than 110 million copies of their books in print, translated in more than 45 languages and sold in more than 80 countries, can have DOUBTS about what they are doing as a writer?
I felt a lot better after remembering that.
So if you are having one of those days where slip-ups are the norm, or where the sentences you are creating remind you of dribble; if you’re having one of those days where the rejections are coming in faster than the time it takes to close down your laptop, or where that inner critic is telling you to get out NOW before you make an absolute fool of yourself, remember that even best-selling authors who have been at this thing we love called writing a long time may experience doubts at times. Hell, they may even make mistakes.
So don’t let it get you down. And don’t give up.
Pick yourself up, dust off that keyboard, and happy writing,
P.S. Other great snippets from David on writing:
- Readers remember characters more than plots due to the human connection (he lets characters speak to him about where they want to go in a book too).
- Write what you know, then write what you would like to know about.
And finally, David does not write from outlines, and never knows the ending when he starts writing a book.
And he’d rather not be mistaken for another best-selling author but it has happened…