Only a writer will understand when you say, “I write what the characters tell me.” To everyone else (and myself when I’m not writing), I sound like I need a white leather jacket with belts on it. Perhaps a cocktail of psych drugs as well.
But as a writer you understand how important your intuitive creative “voice” is. It is the soundtrack of stories beating in your brain. Coming alive with every tappity, tap, tappity tap of the keyboard. So what happens when that writer’s intuition is suddenly blocked by Ellie The Internal Editor? What am I to do?
I struggle. I curse. I pout, I stamp and slam on the keyboard. Why? Not for the reason you’re thinking, the dreaded WB (Writer’s Block. I believe it to be a curse if you say it when you don’t have it; it manifests itself). I have a fit because I am struggling through another problem, writer’s frustration.
I feel the urge to write new chapters for my second novel. I’m actually excited to sit down, crack open the computer and get to the draft. When I’m not typing, I’m thinking about those chapters and the progress of the story with ease. However, unlike this blog post where the words are just flying cross the screen, with writer’s frustration I am doing the type and stop.
Type and stop goes a bit like this:
A cat. STOP. What about this cat? Why is he here? Is this cat important? A dog. STOP. Okay we’re getting somewhere. Perhaps they’re friends? Why would they be friends? This is dumb. This isn’t driving the story forward. Delete start over. A bird. What are you thinking? This makes no sense whatsoever. Delete! STOP. STOP. STOP. STOP!
What am I stopping for? The chance for the editor in my head to STOP AND SHUT THE BLEEP UP! Apparently that is no longer an option. Now that I am in the professional stages of editing my first novel, I have editing techniques crowding my creative ideas. I feel inhibited, stunted almost, by the thoughts I’ve received regarding my manuscript. Majority of these notes are positive comments. The areas that highlighted my weaknesses, I agree with. Unfortunately, those constructive critiques are what prevent me from effortlessly writing, out of fear that I will make the same mistakes.
I’m a free- flow writer. Lately as I learn about the editing world, I’m becoming a plotter writer. A plotter writer is someone who maps out their chapters prior to writing them. Everyone has their own style; for many the plotter writing style works. For me, not so much. I need that writers creative “voice.” I thrive on it. Or at least I thought I did.
Lately I don’t know what I need to make this poor book finally reach the end. I have reworked it three times in seven years after all. Any of my usual standby’s aren’t cutting it. Music, scheduled breaks, mental writing chapters, a change of scenery (I’m trying the last option right this minute baking in the sun) none of it is fixing the problem. I will tell you what I have discovered, stress eating and wine bingeing. If this second novel ever does get completed I’m going to be a drunk, round, sugar addicted author.
Call it perfectionism, it most definitely is. As I am learning new writing tools, I don’t see a point in repeatedly making the same errors. Until I master the new techniques, I guess I must suffer through the type and stop.