Thursday, August 25, 2011

Writing 101: Don't Over-think It

A writer friend of mine who went through a bout of “analysis paralysis” prompted this post. This writer was so stuck on a part of their story that they became frozen and couldn't even begin to try to work the story issue out. Instead, they began a futile search for answers from sources outside of their self, which lead to more procrastination.

A certain level of stress builds as we bounce around the social media sphere reading blogs like this one, and recommended how-to books; as we follow agents on twitter in hopes of mining that one jewel that we can use to pawn our babies off to stardom; and as we glue our rear-ends to a chair and toil away in seclusion, never surfacing air.

Too much of that behavior can lead to over-thinking. In extreme cases, you may become paralyzed and incapable of making any decision like my friend.

Over-thinking can also lead to second guessing our choices and not trusting our gut instincts when we should; we may edit the life out of our manuscripts, and blindly follow advice that’s bad for us.

Deep down we all know how to tell stories. Storytelling is built into our DNA. Some of us can whip out those instincts more naturally than others, but it's in all of us regardless.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you writing is hard. It’s simply not true.

All the things that come with navigating the industry: prepping a story for publication, finding an agent, building a platform, getting published, and becoming the next J.K. Rowling/Stephanie Meyer/Dan Brown etc.; those things have certain degrees of difficulty. But the act of writing is easy.

Keep calm.

Write. One. Word. At. A. Time.

Don't be this guy.


Anonymous said...

Analysis paralysis - I like that! I definitely get it, I think it started after my creative writing teacher in college asked, "What is your character's motivation?" after reading something I wrote. I asked, "WHAT? HUH?" Then became obsessed with finding the hidden meaning in everything I'd written for that class..hah

JEM said...

ZOMG THIS IS ME HOW DID YOU KNOW?!?! But seriously, I killed a whole project because of this. I had too many voices in my head and I couldn't even figure out the story I wanted to tell anymore. I still shiver when I think about it. My lesson learned? Don't let anyone talk to you about your story until YOU are sure what it is. And don't let the story push you around, let the characters push you around.

prerna pickett said...

it's like you read my mind :-)

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I love this - LOVE IT - but I will quibble with the "writing is easy" part. In some senses, you are 100% right - writing, like thinking, is something we can let loose and do intuitively, naturally. But writing well (by which I mean getting across our intent, not some vague literary definition of "quality literature")...that is never easy.

Great post!

Raven said...

Thanks for the reminder :)

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