Challenging ourselves and the fear of writing beyond our capabilities

I think there’s something to be said for recognizing what you’re good at and showcasing it. And also working to make those strengths even stronger, building on them and allowing them to be featured more prominently. But what about venturing into something completely new? I have a book I’ve wanted to write for a few years, but deep down I’m afraid it’s beyond my capabilities as a writer. Have you ever not written something you really wanted to write because you didn’t think you were ready? Have you ever started a project, then realized you couldn’t do it, that you didn’t have the skill?

Do you know your strengths and weaknesses?

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My burning question is, why did she pick up the whack job in the first place? If you've created that answer, it will you why she stays with him. Or it may not. Is she psychologically consistent? I just had an author tell me it took him two years to write a novella because he was trying to make his protagonist the wrong species -- going the wrong direction.
I feel like this each time I start a book. I'm so new at this that I wonder where my strengths are and if it's okay to be different. I'm starting a new suspense project and I feel like the result isn't going to go in my favor. Yet, I'm still trying to write it. It's a weird feeling writing with doubts.
that's such an awful feeling. even when i'm doing something else, it creeps in. i'll think, what's that all about? then i'll remember that i'm feeling sick about my current project. haha! but it's a such a release when you get it figured out.
I'm always wracked with doubt. Then I think I've figured something out and I am able to get past it. Then a new doubt arises and I start it all over again. Old doubts resurface, new doubts forms. I fiddle and tinker and at some point put them behind.

In a way, writing is like a Skinner box. I keep trying stuff, hoping for that wonderful feeling of finally getting something right. But there's another problem waiting to be solved. It never ends. But I can't stop. Can't climb out of the box.
Not by a long shot! Compared with most everyone here, I'm a zygote at writing. I have some idea of what I am comfortable with, but every step I take to beat away the inhibitions and self-doubts now frees me up as a writer and as a person, too. While that scares the shit out of me at times, it also exhilarates the hell out of me as well. So not having a clear idea of what my strengths and weaknesses are, is to me, an actual advantage, because I am more willing to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. HOWEVER, ask me again when I've tried to write my first real sex scene! I suspect that will be my toughest challenge. Dialogue will look like child's play next to that!
If I'm not venturing into the scary unknown, I find it hard to generate enthusiasm. Fear can be easily transformed into excitement (with only one pill!) and that keeps me moving forward. I use the same (patented) system for outlining, ie I only have rough ideas about where I'm heading. If I already know exactly what's going to happen in my novel, there isn't a lot of motivation for me to keep writing.

Right now, I believe I'm working on something beyond my capabilities. But not so far I won't be able to stretch towards it. I just have to hope my skin and bones are elastic enough in the end.

Excellent question, Anne!
bill, that's EXACTLY how it is!!! i know this is an old description of writing, but writing IS problem solving.

DA, there is a real high that goes along with a challenge and pushing limits. especially when you know it's going well. good luck with the sex. :D i used to write romance. when i started killing people i realized murder scenes were very much like sex scenes. i'm not kidding! something about pacing and intensity.

daniel, oh yeah! i can't know everything that's going to happen, otherwise i wouldn't want to write the book. i'm in it for the ride.
good luck with the stretch!
I have this same problem. The wip I'm working on has been a struggle and sometimes it feels like the story is bigger than me. But I'll keep plugging away at it and finish the dang thing because I'll always wonder....and I'm too stubborn to fail.
However, the novella I wrote a couple of months ago was so out of my comfort zone, but it turned out to be a really good least in my eyes.
Don't put yourself in a outside of it. ;-)


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