I struggle a lot in the realm of writing confidence with the idea that I’m simply not creative enough. Up against a speculative genre audience always looking for something new and different, I tend to reject ideas because they’ve been done before. Then that annoying voice in the back of my head reminds me that EVERYTHING has been done before. Is it right? I’m not sure, but I shouldn’t let the idea stop me.
To get this out in the open, I don’t believe in writer’s block except in very rare cases of trauma or such. There are times when people cannot write or really, really, really do not feel like writing. If offered 1 million dollars for a paragraph, I bet they really could get something decent down, though. (If only that happened!)
It’s not writer’s block that makes me stop working on particular stories. It’s fear (oh wait, isn’t that the same thing? I don’t think so, although they are ridiculously intertwined for people who do believe in writer’s block.) and a large chunk of it is fear that my stories are ordinary, expected, boring and especially not layered or nuanced enough.
A long time ago, I wrote a novel called “The Shadow’s Song.” It was absolutely filled with every single bad fantasy cliche ever: secret heirs, bastard princes, simple politics, too distinct bad guy/good guy dichotomy, the thief/hooker with a heart of gold, the caring tough guy/blacksmith, etc. There was even a deathbed secret revealed.
I still like parts of the story. I love some of the characters. But the book sucks. I mean, it would be laughed at by even the greenest fantasy fan. My fear of being unoriginal here is warranted, but I don’t want to scrap the whole thing. So, in my mind on occasion, I rework it. Tweak things. Make proclamations like, “Oh, he can’t be the secret bastard prince, but what if he…?” (I’m not giving it away! Someday you can read it.)
The characters need more depth. The plot needs more depth. The setting needs more depth. Layers. Something. But I get stuck for a while wondering how I can make it all work, how I can make it different enough to be interesting, how I can make it GOOD.