Do you have those moments when you just feel like putting down the pen because it doesn’t even matter? The idea isn’t new, the characters resemble archetypes or worse, clichés. The plot is just hobbling alone and who wants to read all that rambling inner monologue anyway?
Let me tell you a thing: Your story is going to be a unique work of art and only you can do it. Because there is nobody else in the whole wide world who writes as you do. Doubly.
Let me explain.
Firstly: nobody writes like you.
Ideas are a dozen a dime. They wait everywhere, there’s generators for them. The real work is fleshing them out and writing down the actual story. When you tell people ‘I write stories’ how often do they reply: ‘I have this great idea, why don’t you write that?’ Because, let’s face it, the actual writing is the short end of the stick here.
Few people bother with it. Why put down the story in words when it is so perfect and shiny in your head already? Why fight the battle we do when the words don’t come out the way we want or expected? You do. And your voice is unique. The vampire romance in the zombie apocalypse you write has never been done like that before. Your struggling heroes have never been these exact people. Their thoughts and words are new.
The shy girl finding she has superpowers and finding her place in the ‘real’ world and the world of heroes is yours. She will not get her say if not for you. We will never know her. We will only know her sisters. That would be a shame.
You’re slaving over a fix-it fanfic for your fave characters? So what if others have used the same characters or even the same way to fix things? They could never use your words. Your take on things is your very own. So will your story. Nobody before you has taken the words you took and put them the way you did.
You are unique and so is your story. Don’t be discouraged by feeling like an impostor. There are many heroes’ journeys out there, a deluge of coming of age stories, uncountable romances and still people always want more. They want your take on things and they want your story.
Secondly: nobody writes like you.
And I mean your process. It is as unique as you are.
There is a lot of writing advice out there. It will tell you to outline, to plot, to research, to do three arcs, to do five, to use the door system, to know your characters every detail, to avoid adverbs, to avoid ‘said’ to use ‘said’ whenever possible. There a character sheets that tell you what you MUST know, manuals on how to force your story into a certain structure.
But nobody writes like you do. You can find a lot of helpful advice out there. It is still likely that none fits you 100%. You have your own process that works for you. Experimenting to find it is a great thing. Sticking to what you know will work for you can be difficult.
I am a 97% pantser. I do not outline. If I am lucky I have a few places to visit while my characters work their way from the beginning to the end. Yes, I do know the end when I start. It’s like going on a road trip. There’s many ways I can take to the destination. And no, I don’t have character sheets either. Do I know the colour of their eyes? Possibly. If it had relevance at some point. I write those bits down in my little wikis as I go.
I have spent years in anguish over my inability to craft a plot and killed several stories by trying to outline them. But I wanted to write stories and if there was a right way to do this, I needed to learn that, right?
Then one day in my thirties (don’t laugh, ok, well if you have to) I found a summer class by Brandon Sanderson. He took the time to explain several ways of getting an outline for a novel done. Then he said not everybody does it. There are published authors out there that don’t use an outline. I was saved.
So look at what works for you, tweak it, poke it, make it work better. Your best practice can change over time – give it breathing space. And shrug off anybody who tries to tell you you’re doing it wrong. If at the end of the process you have a story, you are doing it right.
Nobody writes like you.