Monday, April 29, 2019

See Ya, I'm Outta Here...

By Charlotte Bennardo

This month: Advice to Beginning Writers.

My advice: Recognize when to throw in the towel. To quit. To walk away. To leave it behind.

Forever stop writing????

What kind of advice is that????

Did I say give up writing? No.

What I said was recognize when to quit: a story that is only partially written, that you can't get past a certain point no matter how hard you try. That means you either need more research, time to let the idea percolate into a full story, or know that it's not enough as it is and it's just sucking up your creativity and time. Think of the story of the boy putting his finger in a hole in the dyke. He stopped the leak, but now can't go anywhere, he's stuck. It would be stupid to spend his whole life with his finger stuck in a small hole, just as it's dumb to spend months, years, working on one story that has such a fatal flaw. Walk away. Maybe in a year or several years, you'll be able to fix it, but don't waste your life on one incomplete idea.

Walk away- from writer's block. Sitting at a desk trying to force the creativity rarely works. If your story is about animals, go visit a zoo. If it's about a historic figure, take a field trip to a museum that features that person. If it's about the moon, go to the NASA website. Just walk away from the laptop/desktop/paper. Breathe in fresh air, unclutter your mind, and don't stay chained to the desk.

Quit- letting time sucks steal your precious writing time. Okay, you've got kids, jobs, obligations; most of us do. Don't volunteer for everything in your kid's classroom, or for their team. I do a lot of work at my church, but it's (usually) for one-time only things; one day to water the plants in the summer. One day to clean the grounds. By volunteering for a one-and-done activity, you don't have the guilt that you didn't help out, yet you get to keep time for yourself and your writing. Even at home, there has to be time when housework, kids, spouse, family, pets, NOTHING can interrupt you. You may have to work your schedule around when people are gone or asleep, but do what you must to hoard as much time as you can. Plenty of writers get up super early for 2-3 hours of quiet, uninterrupted time (because who the heck gets up at 3 am to bug someone for food or whatever?)  Quit any activities that aren't as important as your writing.

Leave it behind- if a writing project is making you anxious, or stressed, or anything but excited, then it's time to leave it in a drawer or closet. Anyone who feels that writing is a chore, or a drudge, or something to get done and out of the way is in the wrong business. Personally, I hate multiple revisions (first 3 are okay, after that, I just want to be done; I have other stories to write). But I don't let that steal my joy of that story, nor for the next one because I can't get right to it. Even when I'm doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month where you write 1,667 words a day, every day, during one of the busiest months- November), I still find joy in the writing. It's the same with people. If you have a critique group, an agent, book club, or even a friend who is stealing your joy, it's time to leave them behind. Life is short; there is only so much time to write and enjoy life, and then there's that proverbial bus waiting to run you over- don't put off or deny yourself the joy of writing.

Photo courtesy of Liam Anderson, Pexels, Inc. 

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