The first Wednesday of the month is IWSG. This month mine will be on Monday, instead of Wednesday as I have Holly Jacobs visiting.Holly’s topic will be on writing category romance. Category writing sounds easy to break into but ask any successful author and they’ll tell you a different truth. Stay tuned for her visit Wednesday and Joanne Kennedy and her cowboys on Friday.
I have great story ideas and a lot fun ideas of what if...? I’ve played around with different genres to stretch and learn. I’ve also been challenged by writing friends to write in a different genre. The ideas are there. I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t even have a problem verbalizing the story outline including characters. But recently, somewhere between orally sharing a couple scenes that have been living in my head as well as the general outline of that story and putting them in words on the page… I run into a problem.
I didn’t used to have this problem. I just told the story. It was like my fingers took dictation from the scenes in my head and I’d surface several hours later thinking, wow, what a ride! It wasn’t ever perfect, but who cared? I was totally involved in the story and having fun.
Most of my life writing has taken place in solitary. No writing buddies or writing conferences just me and the story. Professionally, I’ve written for radio, newspapers, and magazines and had no problem with editors slashing my copy and no problem coming up with something good in a short period of time to meet a deadline. Meeting other professionals and pitching ideas or marketing a company? No problem. Then I decided to go back to college. This was only exception to not being around other fiction writers. I had a solid English background (previous college) but needed current credits so I took various writing classes as electives for my English core. Writing has always been fun and easy for me, so why not?
I don’t say this as a pat on my back and oh, look how good I am. It’s a matter of knowing your strengths and recognizing your weaknesses. Some of this is reflective thinking on what happened.
How did that dam get between my fingers and the scenes in my head and getting it on the paper? How did I lose that flow?
I have a good friend who tends to tell it like it is and doesn’t pull any punches. She’s writing professional and published. We go back a lot of years. She’s seen quite a few of my stories (and has harangued me for not going for publication). We were talking about my problem and I asked for her input. She’s one of those types you don’t ask unless you really want hear truth. What she told me was this.
You’re getting too bogged down with the rules of today’s fiction writing. It stifles you and you’ve lost your relaxed writing zone. The joy of the story. I actually want to strangle you because you aren’t writing how you talk it or like you wrote in story [A or B]. I loved your proposal which had zing and your rich voice was so clearly present. You're pushing too hard to make [your writing] fit into a nice little mold. Let it flow out naturally. I know if you wrote this story the same way you explained it to me, when you weren’t concerned about rules, it would be very powerful. I think the worst thing you did, for your writing, was entering contests with all these wanna be writers critiquing and judging it. These people have you writing like you're writing a textbook.
Sia, just tell the story and forget about the rules and making it perfect on the first draft. If you beat yourself up over every sentence you will never get the story out. It makes you stiff. Mistakes in grammar can be fixed later but you can’t fix stiff and boring. I want you to write this story without filters. Write it like you were telling me the story. Show me what you see in your head.
That’s a lot to think about. She made sense and I understand where she’s coming from. God knows, she’s seen a enough of my writing over the years to see the difference. Now, all I have to do is figure out how to turn off my inner critic and connect again with the flow of my characters and my story.
Sure. Got it. Simple, right? (Cue maniacal laughter).