In this instance: my reaction to other people’s stories. Because I’ve come to realise that when I come across a story – whether heard, read or watched – I often have one of the following reactions:
- Interesting, but I wonder what would happen if you did that instead. . . Or take this idea a bit further. . . And does that mean. . .
- That was kind of bad/ok, but I could write better than that I’m sure.
- That was awesome. . . I’m never going to be able to write like that. . .
- That was awesome! I’m never going to be able to write like that, but still. . . I wonder when I can get to work?
- I want to write!!!
And since I started writing more, it’s only got worse, both the enthusiasm and the lack thereof. And I’ve found it can be tricky dealing with most of these reactions. 3. for example can put me off writing for a day or so (not usually longer because I can’t seem to not write at all for longer than a week, if that) but if I’m already a bit shaky in my confidence, it can pull me down worse. 4. is good because it’s a down followed by a pull-up, and I’ve got the desire to write but I’m not usually over-enthusiastic about it. 5. can be as troubling as 3. if I end up with too many ideas or dash in without taking a moment to focus, but it also tends to bring an emotional reminder/certainty that writing is something I enjoy and want to do. Ditto with 1. actually.
Whichever it happens to be, the trick is recognising what’s happened and coping – like with most situations really! I’ll tell you what though, finishing a really good book is always satisfying and sad and brilliant, but add in the wrench (true or not) of knowing you’ll never be able to write something like that. . . It’s a painful, bitter-sweet moment to be sure, and something that I can easily see putting a lot of people off writing altogether.