NaNoWriMo Day 21

33072 / 50000 words. 66% done!

Thanks to a long commute in the dark, I ended up with a headache that’s keeping me from thinking muchly, as a result I’ve only completed 514 words for tonight.

However, I did manage to think about another thing I’ve learnt, and that is: doubt is a writer’s best friend. Instead of fearing it, it should be embraced. A well-cultivated doubt is what keeps the writer from doing stupid things (eventually… doubt can take a while to creep in). You cultivate the ability to doubt your writing in constructive ways from reading/watching/listening/otherwise digesting a wide variety of criticism. You do it from applying a critical eye to works you’re currently reading/playing/watching/listening/otherwise enjoying. You do it by extensive research that exposes you to the underpinnings of what/who you’re writing about. You cultivate especially seasoned doubt by going to those with the most acerbic and well-thought opinions with an open mind. This is why I read criticism that eviscerates, anything from low-hanging fruit to the most lofty flying cows of entertainment, more often than glowing reviews.

You have particular things you want to avoid in your writing? Then find the people who specialize in taking apart those aspects of storytelling and, for gods’ sakes, listen to them. Cleave as close to the source as possible—if you’re writing Inuit characters, for instance, it behooves you to read works written by them rather than relying solely on second-hand accounts (or worse, your own impressions of their culture, whether experienced first-hand or not).

Then, listen to your doubt. When your doubt says, “something is wrong here,” take the time to think things through and put your finger on what’s wrong. Don’t simply blow past it; at the very least leave a note as to where things seem to be going wrong.

Use your doubt; don’t let it incapacitate you, but consider it another screwdriver in your toolbox.

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