By Alissa Johnson
Last week, I sent my writing partner the next installment of my work, and like always, I told her that I had no idea what I'd written. That I'd slipped into that frame of mind where I went back and forth between loving it and thinking there was nothing there.
I do this every time, and I've begun to recognize a pattern in my writing process: The excitement I feel about a story idea is what gets me to the page. My curiosity about what happens next keeps me going. Yet somewhere along the way I begin to oscillate between two emotional states:
• I love this story and these characters!
• No one is going to care about this.
Her response came a couple of days later when she told me that she reached the last page and "actually made a noise of surprise and dismay that I couldn't scroll down any further!" She has told me the same thing about earlier installments of this story, and still, when I'm writing I succumb to the belief that there's nothing there. This must be the most boring thing I've ever written.
Clearly, I am not a good judge of my own work. Few writers are.
When I find myself in that critical frame of mind, I find it helpful to remember this: I don’t know, and that's okay.
I don’t know if the idea will hold up. I don't know what's going to happen next in the story. I don’t know if the writing is any good. I don’t know what a reader will think. And I don't need to know.
Because the only way to figure it out is to keep going. I find something comforting in that. Writing is no longer about "getting it right." It's about seeing what happens. It's about trying something out and going from there. It's about exploration and adventure, and that I like.