Helen Cox is a UK author. She made her on-screen debut in The Krankies in 1990. Given the choice, her Mastermind topic would be Grease 2 and when someone asks her if she is a god she says 'yes.' Oh, you want to know about her books? Best click some of the links below.
Fear is a funny thing. Not the hard-wired, survival instinct fears surrounding great white sharks and such (#ISawJawsAged4). But the darker, less-tangible stuff you can’t blow up with a convenient oxygen tank and a steady aim.
The most frequent fear expressed by writers I talk to, work with and tweet at is a fear of inadequacy. That what they’ve written is subpar. That they are subpar. And isn’t that something we hear a lot from the little voice in our head? That, one way or another, we’re just not good enough.
Like at 3am when you’re wide awake. Mulling over that ending you wrote a few hours ago. Something about it just isn’t quite right. Oh and, while we’re on the subject of stuff that isn’t quite right, that crooked tooth you have. The one right at the front. You tell yourself it’s cute, and sort of endearing, but it’s really just crooked and that’s that. Sorry.
In the cold depths of the early hours, the voice in our head takes no prisoners.
Modesty is healthy. And arrogance is indeed an unpalatable character trait but there’s a difference between humility and belittling yourself.
What if one day that cruel little voice stops you writing?
Part of the problem with our approach to writing is, for some reason, people expect to just be able to sit down and do it. Maybe it’s because we think of writing in the most fundamental terms – we were taught how sentences work in school so writing a story should be no problem. Or maybe it’s the idea of ‘writing talent’ that keeps our fingers in an endless hover over the keyboard. The theory there’s some rippling pool of writing potential out there and you either emerged from that primordial, lexical swamp, or you didn’t.
Look. I’ll level with you. I’m a straight-talking northern lass; it’s the way I live.
There are some people out there who have natural writing talent. But are they the only people in the world writing? Of course not. Are they they only people in the world who are decent at writing? No. They have a fortunate leg-up. A head-start. Nothing more. If writing doesn’t come naturally, then maybe you won’t become The Greatest Writer Of All Time ™ but, so what? Does that mean you should give up? That you can’t seduce readers into a story. Or move people.
What baffles me most is that nobody would expect to pick up a guitar and become Jimi Hendrix within 3 months. Or hold a paintbrush for a few weeks and become the next Picasso. Writing is a craft that takes hours and hours of practice. A lifelong pursuit. One you will be learning until the day you finally die in some comical but strangely predicable piano-on-the-head incident (hey, bring on the piano, anything but the shark).
So. Next time you fear you’ve written something abysmal, rather than berate yourself remember: whatever you’ve put down is just an attempt. If you want to, tomorrow you can re-write it. Edit it. Think. Dream. Knead the words into the right position. That’s what writers do.
But don’t stop writing. Write every day. Write a word. A sentence. A joke. A love-note. Write nonsense in your diary and photograph it for a blog post. But most importantly, write.
The only thing you owe yourself, or anyone else, is to be the best you can be.
“An attempt can be a failure, a person never is.” Brad Brown