Monday, August 26, 2013

The Simple Secret To Writing

I've been thinking the more writers read how-to books, web sites, and blogs on writing, the more confused they can become. The more it stifles their energy to sit down and write that next story.

Most writers don't fear the first draft. We know it's a draft. It's not for public consumption. But what happens between writing that first draft and finishing the book? Hoping to find a nugget of truth, we pour over blogs and web sites and books that tell us what we "need to know" about pacing, voice, character development, on and on ... until it stops us in our tracks.

Writers are artists. As a whole, the doubt and fear we battle is like walking into a swarm of hornets. We just know we're going to get bit.

What happens as a result of that fear? If you are a writer, you've felt it. You know what I'm talking about.

But here is something to consider. Even Donald Maass started somewhere. And I'll bet he'll tell you he's still learning.

You've already gathered enough knowledge to write. You know the middle of the story matters, to show and not tell, to kill your darlings and prologues and keep backstory to a minimum. So while you're in the process of creating, as you write your next story, don't read any more blogs, how-to books, or web sites that tell you how to write. STOP IT.

Stop second-guessing yourself. Just write the story. Let it pour out of your heart. Weep over the keyboard. Burn the midnight oil until you've finished the second, even the third draft. Put your soul into it. Then, my writer friend, you have something to work with. To revise. To hone. To make beautiful. Then you can submit for critique, or to a professional editor for revision. Then you can refresh yourself in a how-to book as you EDIT.

Remember, there are a ton of "experts". Intimidation is a monster. Even the most seasoned writer questions their own talent from time to time. The secret is ... get the story out of you first. Overcome the fear of writing by writing for yourself first. It's the simple truth.

Blessings to you and yours.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Constipated Storylines

Here it is, the middle of August. Already. Where did this month go? Couple of family birthdays, mine included. But the bigger news, I've been working on a book proposal for The Sanctum. A literary agent is interested in shopping the book to the Christian publishers. I have to give it that chance. God always opens doors for me; sometimes I miss it, but sometimes I manage to step through it, in spite of myself.

I'm still struggling with the first draft of the next novel, but (and it's a big but) when I decided to get quiet and quit fretting over it, that's when the characters began to talk again. It's taking a new turn, and frankly, I'm surprised at the direction. Moved to tears over the last chapter, I tucked my tail between my legs and said to my protagonist, Okay, I'll shut up. You tell me the story. Use my fingers, and I'll just clean it up when you're done.

That's what happens when your writing hits a detour. A roadblock. You get constipated and it often becomes a test of wills between you and your characters. They always win with me. Eventually. I'm a storyline softie. I think until you understand the disappointments, the pain of life, you're not as open to the rough road of your characters. Writing the story in your head is difficult enough. Adding in the voices of the characters, it adds a new element. You either fight it, or yield to the seduction.

Sometimes I think that's why our writing improves in the midst of our own aging process. When I was younger, everything had to be perfect. Literally everything. Though I still battle with perfection on every level, I find my edges have softened. In my body, and in my writing. I'm not as hard on myself. I'm more open to my fellowman, and in the struggles of my characters. It's a nasty world out there. And as a Christian, I see many who shut their eyes to world Christ told us to save.

Writing reality is not like watching reality shows on TV. That's not real. They know there's a camera in the room. There's a producer on set. It's not real. Reality can only be found in books. Even if it's fiction. Think about it.

Allowing your characters to speak to you is necessary. Detouring from the outline of the story may save the story. Getting quiet is better than giving up. Wouldn't you agree?

Blessings to you and yours.