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Writing fiction can be emotionally taxing. I mean, your goal is to make your readers feel, so the process often involves digging within yourself to find experiences that you can use to form insights and mold into characters—all with the end goal of creating a story that seems more real. After all, people may sometimes use genres such as fantasy to escape reality, but they still need a tether that allows them to relate to the story before they can enjoy its otherworldliness.
I guess the point of this blog post is that you shouldn’t be frustrated if a chapter or short story doesn’t feel right. As I said before, a hard day at school or work might leave you too drained to write and that’s okay. Look at that section again tomorrow; you’ll either realize it’s actually not that bad or get new ideas, I promise.
I also believe you shouldn’t endlessly fix one section before moving onto another, especially if you’re just beginning to write. For me, the first few months of working on my novel was just trying to get past the first five chapters without feeling like my words were crap. Part of the problem was that I was improving little by little every week, which made me look back at my previous, less-well-written chapters with disgust. I just kept fixing them and feeling bad about them until I had to take a two-week break before I could get back to writing. It’s different once your writing ability stabilizes a little, of course. You don’t need to make as many revisions for one, so editing before you move on to another chapter/section of your story is fine and even advised. I know many people who do so, and it’s really about what works for you.
Don’t doubt yourself. I still do, and I know Pantheon could have been written better, but authors don’t really finish books unless they accept that their work is never going to be perfect. There’s a difference between knowing your mistakes and letting them bring you down. For me, I’m channeling my doubts about Pantheon toward its sequel Sacrifice, which—I’m not gonna lie—is also beginning to scare me a little. What I know, however, is that it’s going to be better than its predecessor and that’s enough for me.