We’ve all felt it. The gut lurch of hitting a pothole, especially if you live in a colder climate where the road freezes and thaws, over and over, every winter. And every molecule of pavement goes on its own journey, reconfiguring again as an entirely new creation, never better, always bumpy.
We writers have to watch out for those same bumps along our road. Here are some things to remember when next you grab your stomach as you careen over one of those writing bumps:
1. Remember why you write in the first place. Does the act give you satisfaction? Is that why you started? Hold on to that thought and enjoy your writing.
2. Try to keep some sanity in your life by knowing that the publishing world is in turmoil and writers are often paying the price. We are asked to write great books, have impeccable research and unique ideas, go to loads of conferences and workshops, pay for edits before ever submitting our works, and, oh, by the way, have a dominant social media presence online. Part of the reason for this is that in days gone by, writing was solitary. Today a writer’s reach is global; hence, we may be asked many more marketing things because they are so accessible via our computers. Do what you can do, and remember number 1.
3. Try not to fall into the trap of writing to rigid guidelines. Often they are what a certain editor or agent wants because that formula sold once and may again. Of course you want to grab their attention, but remember that every one of them will want some different variation. Be true to your own wants, and remember number 1.
At the end of the road, we writers need to be happy with what we’ve done. Fitting our books into rigid guidelines so that they become formulaic, with each succeeding one a version of the first, can bleed out your creativity, just as surely as the ‘doctors’ of old bled out their patients’ vitality. Of course, if selling is the only thing you want, follow whatever road will work. But if you need more, listen to your inner self. Decide your goals and act accordingly.
At 12:23 last night I took an unusual step for me. I quit a writers’ group. One whose guidelines I had worked very hard to follow. Lying in bed, sleepless again, I figured about 40 hours would see me to the end of the first set of tasks, and none of that time was working on my own writing. Then I would need to start the next requirements. All of this with little help for my own work as the genres are so different. Historical fiction needs editors who know it. Finally, I stole out of bed, turned on my computer, and wrote the notes needed so that I could return to enjoying my writing journey.
This morning I have been picking up the pieces, repaving, filling in the holes, and trying to ensure that I won’t hit this particular bump again.
What do you do when your writing hits a snag? Consider telling about one you hit and sharing what you learned from it.