I’ve always planned to write a book at some point in my life. I remember at about age eight or nine planning novels. I’d beg my parents for a nice new exercise book, a big fat one, 360 pages, and I’d flick that thick, fresh wad of blank pages through my fingers a few times, just to enjoy the clean, chunkiness of it, the possibility. I’d imagine seeing every page covered in writing. Pages get thicker somehow when they’re written on.
I had plans. I had ideas. I knew my characters’ names. I’d agonise over a nice title and toy with various pseudonyms or ways of writing my author name. I’d plan out the chapters, often numbered so there would be an equal number of pages in the book for each chapter. So 12 chapters in a 360 page book would mean 30 pages per chapter. I’d then have to recalculate, realising that I needed a few pages for the title page and table of contents. Once calculated, I’d write out the title page and table of contents, then go through numbering the pages and writing the names of the chapters on the relevant pages. Finally I was ready to begin.
And suddenly my ideas seemed stupid. I might sometimes write a first page. Usually a few sentences. Sometimes just a first word. But as soon as my story began to be transferred onto the page, it didn’t seem to work any more.
That still happens. Not quite to that extent, but my inner critic is my worst enemy. Being told once about age 14 by a well-meaning but tactless teacher that my writing was clichéd didn’t help quash this insidious voice of shame forcing itself into my thoughts. I knew my writing was full of clichés. I knew it was too wordy. Unoriginal. Clunky. Rough. Awkward. But at my very core I have always known I could write and I would go unfulfilled without expressing myself through words.
So how can I be this giant contradiction? On the one hand, I can’t come up with solid output. On the other, writing is my soul. I have no answer to this question. But I do know that I have an awesome idea for a book which has been hovering about for the past two or three years at least. And it won’t go away without being written. The question is, how will I manage to motivate myself enough and kill off the inner critic so it actually gets written? I know that, done well, this book has mass audience appeal and many original aspects, which is a kick arse combination. I just need to write…