Every novelist hits the point, sooner or later, where they think they just might not actually have any talent.
What do you do in that case? Should you just throw in the towel? Or muddle forward?
How do you know if you’re any good?
“People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how great their other talents.”
― Andrew Carnegie
“Ten years from now, no one is going to care how quickly the books came out.
The only thing that will matter, the only thing anyone will remember, is how good they were.
That's my main concern, and always will be.”
― George R.R. Martin
If you’re a discouraged writer, how can you tell whether you’re mediocre or destined for glory?
The bottom line is that you probably can’t.
You’re too close to your own career, and you can’t see what’s obvious to other people.
Other people can only tell you how THEY would write your novel.
You must trust your dream, your own skill at whatever level it may be.
“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished; that will be the beginning. ”
― Louis L'Amour
The bottom line? Write just to write.
Stephen King knows about fear. After he was infamously struck by a van in the summer of 1999,
he spent months in recovery with a fractured hip, a chipped spine, and cracked ribs.
Just sitting upright left him in excruciating pain. Meanwhile, his memoir and writer’s guide “On Writing” sat unfinished in a desk drawer.
“How was I supposed to write about dialogue, character, and getting an agent when the most pressing thing in my world was how long until the next dose of Percocet?”
King wrote of the challenge he faced.
“Yet at the same time I felt I’d reached one of those crossroads moments when you’re all out of choices.
And I had been in terrible situations before which the writing had helped me get over—
had helped me forget myself for at least a little while. Perhaps it would help me again.”
If he hadn’t made himself sit down to start writing again, Stephen King’s prolific career might have ended that July day.
But he did, and it didn’t.
“The pain in my hip was just short of apocalyptic,” King wrote.
“And the first five hundred words were uniquely terrifying—it was as if I’d never written anything before them in my life.
All my old tricks seemed to have deserted me.
I stepped from one word to the next like a very old man finding his way across a stream on a zigzag line of wet stones.
There was no inspiration that first afternoon, only a kind of stubborn determination and the hope that things would get better if I kept at it.”
King finished the book, and has published over 30 more since.
A not so famous author, Randy Ingermanson, wrote for 10 years before he sold one short story for $150 --
that's $15 a year or 3 cents an hour!
But the very next year, he sold both a non-fiction book and a novel.
You never know. And that's the allure:
You never know.
The scariest moment is always just before you start.
After that, things can only get better.