Confidence

Phew – barely scraped last weeks word count. I made it to about 1400 words by Wednesday and then hit what has since been described as ‘a crisis of confidence’.

A few things contributed to this. I took a break on Wednesday evening. This was my first mistake. From now on I’ll do something everyday, even if only a re-read. 48 hours is long enough for all the momentum to fall away from an idea, so you need to revisit it

I had a shockingly bad day developing literature on Thursday. Being absolutely furious about that completely disrupted my flow. I know that sounds pretentious, but when the only thing you can think about is beating somebody to death with a lever arch file, that’s what I call disturbing the flow.

The same day I went to Graham Joyce’s masterclass on narrative structure. This was excellent. But…despite Graham’s repeated warnings not to apply the tools of narrative structure until you have completed a first draft, I of course started thinking about them in relation to the chapter and a half of half formed prose I’d written that week. What is the exposition? I wondered. Have I created a complication? What is the point of magic? How am I ever going to reach the resolution? Deciding that my story lacked any narrative structure I hit the said ‘ crisis of confidence’ at which point everything on the page started to look like the mad typing of a million chimpanzees. Eventually I just had to grit my teeth and grind out another 1100 words. Actually doing that reminded me of what I was trying to do with the story. So the moral of this tale is – if in doubt, just keep writing.

Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Director of creative writing at UoL, published with OUP and Cambridge. Currently travelling the world and writing a book.

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