• Tyler E. C. Burnworth

Step Out of Your Shadow

You've really done it this time.


I'm not pointing the finger at you.


I've done it, too.


WEVE ALL DONE IT AND ANYONE WHO SAYS THEY HAVEN'T IS A DAMN LIAR!


That feeling of not being good enough? You know it. The Shadow of The Writer You Should Be stands over you, breathing down your neck.


The vise on your pyloric sphincter squeezes shut, squirting bile into your throat. You can't feel your legs. The room is spinning around you, faster and faster until--


That's it, you say to your keyboard, I'm not good enough to write this book.


Your keyboard sighs. It's not mad at you. It's just disappointed.


Here it was, expecting a nice 2,000-word-long finger massage, and now you CTRL + ALT + DELETE and it's over.


Don't be that person.


Step out of your own shadow.


Give yourself the freedom to fail, temporarily. Then make something of that failure. It's the fastest way to success.


You ARE good enough to write this story, because it's yours to tell. Even if the first draft is crap (it usually is) and the second, third, eighth draft hasn't taken on a new scent, there are still possibilities. Writers have an advantage some other forms of art do not have; an ancient power so profound it has the ability to solve even this existential crisis you have landed yourself in.


Revision.


We've all heard the saying "all writing is rewriting," and for good reason. It's mostly true. The vast amount of writing you do is revising, editing, and rewriting the Leaning Tower of Pukenachos that is your first draft until it shines and shimmers in the faintest scrap of sunlight.


Extra effort might even make it glow in the dark. Or that's Plutonium-239. Hold your breath and DO NOT TOUCH IT!


Assuming your story isn't a fissionable biohazardous material, you can always rewrite it. Fix flat characters by giving them motives, hopes and dreams aside from the main storyline. Make the characters struggle for everything. Dangle the carrot, allow them the barest nibble and then YANK THAT SUCKER AWAY. Plug plot holes with purposeful divergence or dissention among characters. Readers will love you if you put emotion-laced meat on the bones of your story in this way.


Remember, in most popular fiction, not every sentence is a flower.


Flowers grow best when, what now?


Fertilizer.


Flowers grow best surrounded by shit. Manure, if you prefer. Pick the passages where you can increase immersion with a beautiful word garden on the setting, or show a different side of a character through intense and detailed internal monologue. Keep the rest business casual.


If you have giant walls of text in your manuscript, try incorporating some white space.


Break those big blocks into bite-sized chunks.


As an added benefit, you might find the flow is smoother this way.


Or if you struggle to form a three sentence paragraph, check your descriptions; of setting, character, interior monologue and such. You don't want to leave the reader with all meat and no bones.


The next time that ghastly specter of Who You Should Be rises from coiled smoke and threatens to overtake you, act fast.


Turn on your inner light. Be yourself. Be yourself bravely.


Write your best today and make it (and yourself) better tomorrow.


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