Just past the 30 000 word mark of the first draft of my new novel manuscript. I’m glueing my bum to the seat and getting the words down but not without some hideous self-doubts raising their ugly heads.

When I first started seriously writing fiction, back in 2002, I wondered why more experienced writers talked about their fear of the blank page with such horror.

Now I know why. Even if you have some success, once you’ve been writing a while and some of it has been good, then the fear of crappiness sets in.

If you’re lucky the creative process will whisk you away and you’ll forget to check for shittiness of writing. But if you’re stuck in that, “Will it ever be good enough?” head space, then it’s best to work with the screen covered. (I once spent a whole month typing with the screen of my laptop turned down.)

On my very darkest days thoughts of quitting, cutting my losses and finding a real job that actually pays, make every word I smear on the page seem worthless.

That’s when I stop and ask myself, “Should I go on? Is it worth the effort?”
And every single time, this is the answer I get.


So, if you’re in that dreary self-doubting place, I want you to hear these words too.

JUST KEEP WRITING! Your writing is good. Your work is valuable.


with love,


That’s the secret to first draft writing. Just keep plodding forward, let the momentum build. Put the screen down on the computer if you have to. Just keep writing and writing until you forget it’s you at the keyboard. Finish for the day then start where you left off in the morning. But whatever you do – Don’t look back!
No till the end anyway, when you can scream, but at least you’ll have a whole first draft to fiddle with, no matter how ugly.