This post, by Chuck Wendig, originally appeared on his terribleminds site on 11/18/13.
You: I made a terrible error.
Me: You tried to punch that coyote again.
Me: You huffed wood varnish and got lost in the mall.
You: No. Well, yes, but that’s not the mistake I’m talking about.
Me: You ate all the bacon again.
You: That’s not a mistake. That’s me fulfilling my manifest destiny.
Me: It’s a mistake because when you eat all the bacon, I turn into Bacon Hulk and I rip your puny form to Kleenex ribbons out of sheer, baconless rage.
You: I see your point. I didn’t eat all the bacon, it’s still downstairs, chillax.
Me: Nobody says “chillax” anymore. The new word is “coolquilize.”
You: JESUS GOD WHATEVER can I tell you my mistake now or what?
Me: Bleah, sure, go for it.
You: I’ve been reading other people’s work as I write.
Me: Reading is fundamental. Writers who don’t read are like screenwriters that don’t watch movies, like architects who don’t strop up sexually against elegant skyscrapers, like professional killers who do not admire the work of other professional killers from the telescoping lens of a distant hijacked drone. Writers have to read. It is an essential spice to this broth we’re brewing. Writers who don’t read are missing their souls.
You: Fine, yes, yeah, I just mean — some people have been posting their NaNoWriMo projects. Like, snippets or whole sections and, hoooo heeee unnnnh — *rocks back and forth while massaging temples* — I have discovered through this that I am not good enough.
Me: Oh, god, more of this again. Okay. Huddle up. Writing a story is in some ways an act of obstacle management and you’ve gotta manage all the obstacles accordingly — jump all the fences, hop all the ditches, elbow all your enemies right in their spongy tracheas. One of the biggest obstacles is self-doubt. Doubt is the vampire you invite into your house. Doubt is bedbugs and hobos — it fucking lingers, man, like the scent of cigarette smoke in your curtains, or the odor of cat piss in your carpets.
You: So, what do I do about doubt? It sounds like a demon. AN ACTUAL DEMON THAT REQUIRES SOME KIND OF EXORCISM IS THERE A BOOK A HOLY BOOK PLEASE HELP.
Me: The book you’re writing is the holy book.