Some lessons appear in so many different parts of your life that it’s hard to ignore them. Over the past few years I have been downright hit over the head with the message, “We all travel our own paths, at our own paces.” If my life were a novel I would accuse the author of being a bit to obvious and heavy-handed with that point.
Today I see it in writing. I’ve been having a lot of conversations with other writers about the act of writing. I see people who can push out thousands of words a day (and not just by chaining themselves to their computers). I talk to people who write multiple novels a year, and people who can juggle novels, short stories, blogs and freelance writing all at the same time. Then there are the different ways that everyone writes, from the medium we use for our first drafts, to our methods of planning (or not), the order in which we write the story, and how the editing process occurs. So many different ways to go about things.
It can be hard to not fall into the trap of “I should…” I should be able to write x-many words a day. I should be able to work on the novel, the blog AND this other project. I should be outlining this or that. I should… I should… I should…
However, I have learned some very important things about my writing, and now shuffle those I should…’s aside.
I have a tendency to immerse myself in what I am writing. When I was younger I would spend hours playing out scenes in my mind, creating different versions of the story I was writing, exploring the lives of side-characters. I would imagine dialogue, and sometimes even find myself wandering the story in my dreams. I was all in.
I was reminded of this a few months ago. I’ve talked about it some, around my decision to stop working on Disparate Threads. For a year I had been trying to work on both Bria Lana (a novel that still needs a proper title) and Disparate Threads. In Disparate Threads I had four different characters telling the story, and Bria Lana has a decently extensive cast-of-characters. Trying to get into all of their heads was too much for me, they were all starting to sound alike and none were getting the attention they needed.
Since I stopped working on Disparate Threads it’s been amazing. I’ve been able to focus on Bria Lana’s story, really digging into her mindset (and the mindset of some of the major supporting characters). I can sit and imagine the conversations she’d have, think about why she is doing things the way she is, and explore the deeper motivations of those she is encountering. Bria Lana’s story is so much richer for it.
I’m learning a lot in the process of working on this novel, and I know I will be sharing more about what I’m learning with you all, but this is a hugely important insight for me. While other people may be able to have many stories in the works at one time, I am a one-story-at-a-time gal. At least if it’s a story with any real depth to it (I can still have fun with shorts, it seems).
There are plenty of “I should…”s, but most of them aren’t true.
The only thing I SHOULD be doing is telling the story, however quickly or slowly that may come, in whatever manner that may take. I should be true to the story I am trying to tell, true to the characters who are involved. I should write in a way that makes sense, and works, for me.
I’m excited to be co-hosting this month’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group!
The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a great group of supportive writers, helping one another through our writing ups-and-downs.
There is a great Facebook Community for more daily connection! More posts from the group are tagged on Twitter at #IWSG.