Or, fessing up to what you don’t know.

A view over a mountain rang with the sun setting.

Sometimes it can be really hard to admit that there’s something you don’t know. In my case, I thought I knew how to write a novel. I’d read about a billion novels, so surely I knew what to do, right?

How wrong could one woman be?

Writing a novel has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried. Those of you who've been following my journey for a while will remember my sojourn in the country, where I had three months to bash out a first draft. And that I did. I wrote nearly 90,000 words and, to be completely honest, I thought I was done. Then I sought feedback and slammed hard up against two truths:  

  1. It wasn’t finished at all. In fact, I’d only just begun.
  2. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t the polished masterpiece I imagined it to be.

Talk about humbling.

A while ago, a fellow writer at a workshop suggested I give the course ‘Writing a Novel’ with the Faber Academy a try. No, said my ego. I don’t need that. I know what I’m doing.

Late last year I found myself blocked, stuck and plagued with self-doubt. So, I put my ego aside and applied to the course. I was accepted and, so far, I am over the moon with how it’s going.

After only a few weeks of tuition I have started writing again (hooray!) and I feel buoyed about the process – especially because I’m no longer alone on my journey. I’m part of a group of 12 incredible writers, all of whom have vastly different stories, styles and personalities, and I’m enjoying getting to know each of them. It’s a privilege to read their work and start to understand their projects. They are all so talented!  

One of the best things about the course so far has been the feedback I’ve received on my work. Having the tutors and other students review my work in such detail – and with such kindness – has been phenomenal for me. It has helped me see my writing in a completely different way and I now understand themes I wasn't aware of before. It’s also helping me overcome my self-doubt. I’ve received enough feedback to know that I’m onto something worthwhile and that I should continue giving it a go.   

Thanks to the course, I’m reading differently, thinking differently and seeing my work differently. It’s liberating and exciting.

I wanted to tell you all this just in case your ego is blocking you from trying something new. My takeaway from this experience is that thinking I knew everything was a barrier to growth. Previously, I would have called myself creative and curious, but now I can see that I was standing in my own way. My true creativity and curiosity have been revealed now that I’ve stepped into learning mode, with other writers keeping me company and bringing all their different perspectives into the mix.

One day, dear readers, I will write on this blog about the novel I have completed and the submissions I have made to publishers. I don’t know when that day will be. But this course has given me the jump start I needed. The best news is that I feel like I’m a writer again.

I send you all my good thoughts and best wishes. I hope that, whatever you're up to, you're enjoying life and finding some great books to read. And, if you’re feeling stuck or bogged down in any part of your life, maybe my experience with a dose of productive humility might give you a little push to try something new.

Much love, Lyndall