When I first started writing novels, I had a lot to say about writing. I was learning so much and anxious to share, so I’d write blog post after blog post of, “Ooooh, look at this new shiny trick!”
I haven’t posted much lately. It’s not because I feel like I’ve learned everything. It’s the opposite, actually. I’m starting to think I’ve learned too much.
That sounds bad. Let me explain.
I feel like Yentl:
(Now I have that song stuck in my head. Let me get it stuck in yours, too. You’re welcome. :) )
You’d think that writing the first book would be hardest. Nuh-uh. Nope. At least not for me. My first novel, Sadie, came fast because I wrote for the fun of it. Without reader expectation. Without a million rules bogging me down. Without wondering if a certain scene/character/phrase would strike people the wrong way. It was just fun. A blast, actually.
Right now I’m working on the first draft of my fourth novel (or sixth depending how you count) and struggling like crazy. It should have been finished a month ago. I had the time. I know how to do it and even plotted it completely. It’s just a matter of putting it on paper.
Why does knowledge sometimes shut us down?
Being educated is a good thing, right?
I don’t know. I mean, of course it’s good to learn and educate yourself, but sometimes…sometimes…
It’s just too much!
Does anyone else feel this way? Like the more you learn about your craft, whatever it may be, the less qualified you feel about doing it?
Enough is Enough
I love reading quotes, writing blogs, and books to help me hone in my skills. I’ve done so nearly every day for six years. But at some point, enough is enough, people. Information overload has shut down some of my writer friends to the point their scared to write an-y-thing. Heck, it’s shutting me down.
- “Is this sentence perfect enough?”
- “Is my plot structure strong enough?”
- “My timing tight enough?”
- “My characters deep enough? Witty enough?”
- “Oh, shoot, that was passive voice. Oh, no! So was that!”
- “Argh! I just found 5,000 adverbs in my book. And look at all these exclamation points!!!!”
Meanwhile, we’re thinking, “How do I write a story that will change the world?” As if that’s somehow our job. As if someone hired us to–hello–change the world???? Are we nuts?
Because we quit. We walk away. Or at the very least, we (or maybe it’s just me) get so tied up with writer’s anxiety, we end up surfing social media for hours, looking for the next bit of writing advice, because maybe that will help.
Do you know what will help? Yeah. Neither do I.
Well, that’s not entirely true. There’s something I’ve had to tell myself before. Lately, I’ve repeated the inward lecture. Daily.
And it goes something like this:
Sure, you’ve done your homework and learned every archetype, plot device, and grammar fixing wizard. So what? It’s time to set it aside and get out of your own way.
You love it, so do it.
Quit worrying about everything wrong with it. You are your own biggest critic! Quit worrying whether the next words you type will change the world. *News flash: they won’t. So have fun. Write. Kick back, put on some rockin’ awesome music, and simply write.
That’s it. No blogs. No writing helps. No scouring Pinterest for the next great bit of advice.
Just you and the keyboard.
That’s how it started anyway.