If so – and you aren’t alone – read this guest post from story coach Jennifer Blanchard.
The first time I sent my Story Coach, Larry Brooks, a story plan for him to analyze, I thought I’d nailed it. I was waiting to receive his email saying I had a great story and my genre would eat it up.
What I got back, was heartache.
Not only did he say I didn’t have a story, but he pointed out several really big plot holes and one particular scene that, if I used it, would ruin the whole story.
It was bad.
And he didn’t give much positive feedback, if any. Not because he’s mean and wants me to suffer, but because positive feedback isn’t going to help me improve. (What’s good doesn’t need to be fixed, everything else does.)
I haven’t ever admitted this before, but a small part of me wanted to quit in that moment. To throw in the towel and say that I would leave the writing up to people with actual talent.
Except I wouldn’t be where I am in my life today if I listened to the voice that tells me to quit. So I pushed through and decided maybe that wasn’t the right story, and I worked on another one.
A few short years later, my debut novel is out in the world (a story that Larry also analyzed, told me had potential, and he made a small tweak that changed everything).
Being a novelist–especially a pro novelist–isn’t for quitters. It’s for writers who know they can get better and improve by learning craft, by studying story, and by not trying to do it all alone.
That’s where I found myself in the moment I felt like quitting. I knew I could quit and find another hobby to focus on (God knows I have plenty of them!). But in my heart I knew I was a novelist. So I had to go on.
What I did instead of quitting was practice more. I re-read Story Engineering. I watched more movies and deconstructed the plot points. I re-read the novels I love, to see how they did it.
Three things you’ve gotta have if you want to be a pro novelist:
1 Thick Skin–as thick as possible. The thicker the better. You have to be able to hear really bad things said about your story and not even flinch. (REALLY TOUGH, I know.)
2 The Ability to Brush Things Off–you can’t take anything personally. Ever. Because it’s never really about you. It may be about your work or your writing, but it’s not about you as a person. Making mistakes, in writing or elsewhere, doesn’t mean you’re flawed and not meant to be a novelist. It just means you have more to learn.
3 A Strong Grasp On Craft–period. There’s no way around this. You have to know craft, understand craft and master implementing it in your stories. If you can’t do that, you’ll never make it. (Harsh, maybe. But I’m here to help you cut years off your learning curve, not keep you spinning your wheels forever.)
Don’t fool yourself into thinking that being a good writer is enough or that you can write a really good story without knowing craft. It’s not and you can’t.
There are opportunities everywhere to learn more about craft. Books. Workshops. Coaching programs. Writing groups.
If you’re ready to learn craft, here’s an enormous opportunity for you to do so:
Your Story On Steroids
One bestselling novelist. One pro story planner. Four days. Portland, Oregon. April 3-7. The Benson Hotel. Your writing will never be the same again. (And there’s a special massively discounted price available until Valentine’s Day!)
About the Author: Jennifer Blanchard is an author and story development coach who helps emerging novelists be more effective storytellers and cut years off their learning curves, so they can write kick-ass books and get published faster. Grab her free story structure cheat sheet and start writing better stories today.