Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Trust What you Know

Maybe you’ve noticed…there are a lot of people dispensing advice on the internet. And a lot of it’s good. In fact, I’ve learned quite a lot from reading online posts.

If it wasn’t for the internet, I never would have learned how to plot a character’s internal journey as well as their external journey. I wouldn’t have known how to format a query letter, find a beta reader or kill my darlings. I may never have tried to interview my main characters, create layers for my stories or keep tension on every page.

But sometimes all the advice, even though it’s good advice, can get to be a bit much. These days when I sit down to type I don’t just hear my character’s thoughts, or even the sound of my snarky internal editor. I also hear voices reminding me to use more active verbs, stop using filter words and for once, add some emotional depth to those characters before the third draft!

Ugh. It’s a lot to think about.

Every one of us started on the writing journey because we had a story to tell. And if you’ve been blogging for a while, chances are you’ve become a pretty savvy writer because there’s a lot of great information out there to help your writing improve.

But for today, when you sit down to write, turn off all the advice and all the chatter. You already know what to do. Now just trust yourself to do it. Write that story.

We’re all waiting to read it.

17 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

I do that when I'm writing the first draft. But I'm revising for all those things so I try and keep those voices swirling through my head! :)

Angela Felsted said...

This is brilliant! I really needed to read this today. :)

Anne Gallagher said...

Oh the rules!!! They haunt me. I even rewrote my daughter's note from Santa Claus this year -- 3 x's.

Somehow, though, I think once we learn the stuff we're supposed to, and it makes us better writers, it becomes automatic when we next sit down to write. I know I don't use as many 'was' or 'to be verbs' as I used to.

Kristan said...

Lol ironically, THIS is good advice.

It really is hard to tune out all those extra voices and thoughts when you're sitting down for your day's work. But writing is not performance art; no one is watching or reading over our shoulders. (And if they are, smack them!) We don't have to get it right on the first go-round, and almost no one does.

Thanks for the reminder!

Kelly said...

I seriously have learned so much of what I know about writing children's stories on blogs, at the Blueboards, at web sites.
But yes, the biggest part of writing....is sitting down and falling into your story and writing!

storyqueen said...

I have to agree with you. If we don't tell the stories that compel us, who will?

Thoughtful post.

Shelley

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Ah! So needed this today, thank you! I'm sitting down to write, all I can think about is how this rough draft is no where near as good as the book I'm reading (Red Glove by Holly Black. So. Good.). Your comment about putting emotional depth in before the third draft cracked me up! That's exactly what's going through my head right now!! :)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Yep, those voices are in my head too, but I don't mind. Especially when they're there for me as I figure out my outline. :D

Austin James said...

I agree. Sometimes the advice is a lot to handle. It sure is nice to sit down and just write sometimes... with no worries.

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Love this! I did a post last week about something my brother said: "The solution was to just do what I thought should be done and not follow a recipe."

Magic. :)

Krispy said...

Sometimes, the other voices (good advice or not) can get overwhelming, making it harder to let the words flow. Sometimes, I find myself psyching myself out because I'm thinking too much instead of just writing.

I needed to hear this, so thank you!

anthonyleecollins said...

@Anne, I think you're right. It's best when the lessons become automatic, when you don't have to think about them.

Joanne Fritz said...

This is very wise, Sherrie. I've been told over and over to read and pay attention to all that advice, but sometimes it's just too much. It fills up my head and then the story itself gets squished back into a dark, dusty corner.

Time to bring it out into the light.

And I loved your last line!

Jackee said...

Boy do I ever need to turn down the chatter lately. I'm so distracted by creating the perfect word/sentence/scene that it's discouraging. Thanks the reminder--I need to get back to the story-I-need-to-tell reason to write. I was once so giddy with the new venture of writing. I need to get that back. :o)

Creative A said...

Probably not what your post intended, but after reading, I Googled "filter words."

Oh.

Yikes!

Maybe it's time I put *on* my editorial cap? :)
-Mandy

Creative A said...

Probably not what your post intended, but after reading, I Googled "filter words."

Oh.

Yikes!

Maybe it's time I put *on* my editorial cap? :)
-Mandy

Creative A said...

Probably not what your post intended, but after reading, I Googled "filter words."

Oh.

Yikes!

Maybe it's time I put *on* my editorial cap? :)
-Mandy

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