I used to write effortlessly, daily, with a slightly manic grin on my face and a bubble of excitement in my chest; with confidence about how GOOD the story was.
Then I published the 80AD Series. And that went nuts with hundreds of thousands of downloads and people of all ages emailing me from all over the world to say how much they enjoyed the series.
Weirdly, (or not, if you know me) that made me think: 'I should know how to write better, so I can re-edit/rewrite and do those stories justice. They aren't good enough as they are.'
So I learned stuff. Much stuff. How to structure a story correctly, character arcs, themes, plotting vs pantsing. Not all the things, but many of them. I'm sure I still have much to learn.
Now it's a horrible catch-22. Yep, undoubtedly my writing is clearer, more precise and evocative. I've been shortlisted for awards and had people who know more than me nod wisely and say nice things.
But writing is no longer the effortless joy it was a few years ago. Now I agonise over every damned word and fret over whether characters are put through the wringer enough, or whether the ending is foreshadowed properly, or too overtly. And, as a horrible side-effect, I can't watch a movie without a small part of my brain breaking down the story structure and predicting what will come next, or pointing out plot holes. During the movie. Not afterwards.
And there's the inevitable 'what do my peers think' creeping paralysis. I never had peers before. I was solitary, writing for my own enjoyment and throwing it up online to see if anyone else liked it. Now I've made some fabulous friends in the Australian writing scene. They're lovely people. Talented, interesting, smart, well-read. And I'm terrified to put my writing in front of them because it's never going to be as good as theirs.
The worst part is: there's no going back to the good old days of ignorance.
Which is also the best part.
So how do I move forward? How do I regain the fresh confidence in my work and still employ all the knowledge?
I have no idea. I probably need to find a middle ground between paralysing lack of self-belief and ignorant over-confidence.
Aiki Flinthart is the author of the highly successful YA Portal fantasy series, 80AD. Her latest release, Shadows Wake, is due out on the 25th March. Pre-order here: Shadows Wake.
I live in Australia - which tells you I have a sense of humour. We're a self-deprecating people, we Aussies. My aim is to, one day, vanish in a blinding flash of enlightenment. In the mean time, I'm doing my best to learn as many