Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Trust the Writing Process

I was working with a client recently. We were reviewing a short story she was writing, and she kept asking me if I liked it and what I thought the characters should do next.

I explained to her that she was only just beginning her rough draft, and that she had to learn about her characters first. She was still in the discovery phase of her story.

She understands the concept of multiple drafts. It's just that she is trying some new things and isn't as confident as she'd like to be.

This is a common thing. There's a lot of writing advice out there. A good bit of it is based on solid principles, but writing is not a one-size-fits-all game, and what works this time may not be a good idea the next.

There are lots of techniques to get through the drafting process: Plotting, pantsing, time versus word count, and many others. Ultimately, a lot of the issues we face when writing come down to fear.

I've written about this a lot.

In the case of my client, I advised her to just get the first draft done. Write it with the idea that she doesn't have all the answers, and that the characters she started with may not be the ones that she ends up with. At this point, the story may not be very good, either.

And that's OK.

Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open. 
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

The important thing is to set aside the fear. Tell the internal critic to stuff it. Get writing.

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