Changing the world's opinion… as soon as we finish this math homework
I get it.
I really, really get it.
Sometimes it’s so easy to feel like your book sucks. It’s so easy to feel like your book sucks while you’re writing it, so easy to feel like your book sucks while you’re in the middle of revising it, so easy to feel like your book sucks even long after you finish it. And by extension, it’s so easy to want to give up on that book.
But here’s what I have to say to that: don’t.
Doubts like this? They happen to every writer, all of the time. Ask any published author, and they’ll tell you that they not only thought their book sucked during much of the time they wrote and revised it, but that most likely, even to this day they still have moments where they feel like their book is crap. Don’t believe me? Well, what about this: remember how J.K. Rowling mentioned that she wished she’d made Harry end up with Hermione instead? Yeah. So that means, even one the most popular authors of the most popular series of our time doubts herself. Even J.K. FREAKING ROWLING has moments where she thinks her books are no good. So what you’re feeling? It’s what all of the greatest authors out there feel each and every day. That’s because it’s natural. It’s normal. It’s a part of being an artist.
But let’s take a step back for a second. First of all, you’re WRITING A BOOK. A book. A full-length, real book. You’re doing it. Or maybe you’ve even already done it, and are well into revisions right now. Maybe you’re going through your first draft and thinking those thousands of hours you spend writing it and probably crying and smiling and feeling all of the feels at points, were a waste. Maybe you think you’re a failure, but here’s the thing: you aren’t. Because, you did it. Writing a novel is a huge accomplishment in itself. Seriously. Stat-wise, something like 81% of Americans (sorry, can’t find a worldwide statistic, but I imagine it’s pretty close) want to write a book, and only 2% ever finish one. You are in the 2% now. You beat the odds; you finished a book. YOU. DID. IT. And those of you who are not quite finished with your first draft yet? You’re almost there. You’ve already done what most people can never do, and the end is only a little ways away.
Just take a minute to think about that, to enjoy the success. Because all of you, no matter where you are in your journey, are hitting milestones most people only dream of. Let that sink in. And once it does:
Done? Okay, good. Now close your eyes and take a deep breath.
So what, I finished a draft? you’re probably thinking. It sucks and it will never get published. And you know what? You’re wrong. Besides the fact that these thoughts are 4,000,000% totally normal (that’s a scientific statistic), the simple fact that you doubt your book makes you better off than most, as it means you are thinking critically in order to make your good book great.
And about the never getting published thing? Even if your book does need work, I personally believe that every book can be worthy of publication. It may require anything from major revisions to a few quick edits, but it will. get. there. I’m sure your book is way better than you seem to think it is, but even if for some reason it’s not, you can always make it better. Just don’t give up.
Also? Chances are you’ll start liking your book a lot more in later drafts. First drafts are designed to suck. That’s their exact point: to suck. They’re designed to get your story and characters out, but they will always need more work. They will always be far from perfect. And that’s okay, because the beautiful thing about writing is that you can always make your book better. You can always get feedback. You can always fix problem spots. You can always turn your novel into something even more awesome.
Even when it’s all done, you will still have some doubts–that’s only natural–but after you revise the hell out of your first draft, the book will start to come together, and you will start to like it.
Point is? Just because you think your first draft is not so great doesn’t mean you should give up on the book. Revise it. Get critiques from people you don’t know too well. Revise it some more. Soon, the book will start coming to together, and it will be good.
YOU. CAN. DO IT.