Unsure, Nervous, and My Writing is Awful

Last night, I restarted my novel King’s Shadow. Two drafts are gathering dust on my hard drive: one from NaNoWriMo last November and the other an attempt at a restart this summer. Both were abandoned when I lost momentum. I couldn’t overcome the guilt I felt at writing when I thought that I should be doing more important things. Even the practice of setting aside one hour–a measly hour I would otherwise kill with television–to sit at the computer and write.

The first four hundred words were miserable. I hated them. The story didn’t make sense. It felt like the reader would have no idea what’s going on yet and wouldn’t feel connected to the setting or the characters. The narrator doesn’t have the strong voice I want from her. She’s too timid. Plus none of the writing was anywhere near the same level as published books. It would be a stretch to say that it was even in the same galaxy.

But then the gears in my brain began to turn, and I started to get caught up in the story. I could see the white hallway with amber stains marring the walls. I heard the pleasant, robotic voice urging the people in the palace complex to remain calm. I smelled the sweat, adrenaline, and fear of the characters as they hunted for an unknown intruder.

I hit just over eight hundred words, and I didn’t want to stop. The clock read 10:37, however. Past my bedtime since I had to get up to take Sampson out the next morning. So I reluctantly saved the file before shutting down the computer. Enthusiasm tends to spill over into the next session if I stop while I’m ahead.

This first draft isn’t meant to be read by anyone but me. So it doesn’t matter as much if the story doesn’t flow like it should. That can be fixed and smoothed out in revision. All I need to do now is keep writing and fall in love with the story each time I sit at my computer.

Have you ever been discouraged while working on your first draft? Did you overcome it? How?

2 thoughts on “Unsure, Nervous, and My Writing is Awful

  1. I’m currently going through the exact same process. My strategy right now is prepping for NaNoWriMo and then trying to just plow through the first draft and have *something* come December, even if it doesn’t meet my usual quality standards, because it’s easier to work with something bad than nothing at all. Word’s still out on whether or not this’ll work, but the prepping I’m doing has been getting me re-inspired to work on the story and I’m drafting more than I have in months, so I’m taking that as a step in the right direction 🙂 Best of luck with your first draft!

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