Being that April 10th was National Encourage a Young Writer Day, I have continued to think about my time when I first started writing and some of the negative thoughts I often had, believing I might not have what it takes to write something worth sharing to the world. Some transparency is coming at you today (jab, jab, upper cut!).
What I struggled with the most early on was this belief that I could not come up with anything original. Mind you, I was focused on epic fantasy from the start and if I were to look back on my first attempts at a story, a lot of what I wrote could easily have been clones of some other element in the books I was reading back then. In retrospect, this makes sense to me now. It also makes sense why I had to write two “bad” novels before I found my way to the projects I’m currently working on and excited about.
Doubt in myself was an all too familiar face I stared at or found looking my way as I would sit down and do my best while typing away. That’s what I did: my best. I think for young writers, they need to make mistakes and struggle along the way before they find their footing. I have experienced this kind of grind and forming of ability in another area. Playing drums. Those first years had their very own level of difficulties and growing pains. The same can be said of writing.
There were some years that I barely wrote at all because of this struggle. I was going to school and working but as I’ve said, writing has to be made a priority in order to find success. I’ve battled with bouts of depression and none were so bad as when I was living in Seattle going to school. I could easily say it was because of the weather (a little cliché but there is some weight to that but strictly from a lack of vitamin c). To be honest, I just didn’t like myself and what I was doing with my life. I was there for school at a legit university and I struggled to find motivation to go to class just about every day. I ate poorly, gained a lot of weight and barely slept because of horrible restless leg syndrome. Not fun.
In all this, I kept trying to write despite not really knowing why I was writing. I think at that time I was editing my second book, which has since been shelved and only returned to when I need a good laugh. Trust me, it’s not good. It was too much like trying to be something you’d find in a Final Fantasy game and honestly, it just wasn’t genuine. I restricted myself too much because I didn’t trust in my abilities and mirrored a lot of characters and world elements to these popular games.
However, in all this I tried to find motivation and inspiration where I could. This ended up taking the form of finding writing quotes and putting them on my bedroom wall so I could see them all the time. One quote in particular has to this day stayed with me and really is one of the seeds that kept me going (blowing on those embers otherwise buried in ash).
“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.” C.S. Lewis
This quote from the great C.S. Lewis gave me one simple direction to set my course towards. Truth. Now, this does not mean I all of a sudden had an epiphany and began to change my bad habits and fix what I was doing as a young writer. Would that it were so simple (Hail Caesar!) My wife will laugh at that one. Bernaners. No, I had a new adventure to take! What is truth? I won’t go into that long tale at this time, but I did embark on that journey and it took a few more years before I eventually began the Ravanguard series.
To finish all this up in a neatly tied bow, young writers, I implore you to not be chained down by doubt or fear. Embrace the bad writing because then you’ll have an example of the bad to return to and know you have eventually found success. If good writing is simply telling the truth from your perspective, then search for truth and let that be your compass (cue the cheesy after-school special music!).
Call to Action: We’re only a few days from the newsletter being sent out! Woohoo!!!! I have sent the Ravanguard short story, “The Vain King and Taboo Coin,” to my editor contact and it is polished up for your enjoyment. Sign up so you can read it!