I love writing fiction. It’s a giggle. You get paid to write stories… what’s not to LOVE about that? It’s easy, and it’s profitable too. That said, before you get paid, you need to write, and that’s harder than it needs to be for some authors.
You biggest challenge when writing anything is YOU; that’s especially so with fiction. You try too hard to “write well” and you get blocked.
Trying blocks you. By “blocked”, I mean:
- Your writing doesn’t flow. It’s stilted. It reads like “writing”;
- You’re uncomfortable with your characters;
- Your creative muse has decamped. She’s either on vacation, or has given up on you.
The more you try, the worse it gets.
Here’s the secret: STOP TRYING!
Stop trying: allow the words to flow
You’re telling yourself a story first — forget your readers while you’re writing. Tell the story.
And take this to heart — whatever the problem, YOU CAN FIX IT LATER.
Fix it later: “re-vision”
When you’ve completed your first draft, it’s your chance to revise… to re-vision the material.
Here’s an example of revision and “fixing it later”. About a month ago, I completed the first draft of a romantic suspense novel. I let the material lie for a couple of weeks, so I could approach it with a fresh eye. I wasn’t happy with the emphasis. I decided that I needed more romance, while maintaining the suspense.
I also liked the two main characters far too much. It seemed a shame to limit them to just one novel. I was reluctant to let them go. The heroine was fun, quirky, and frighteningly competent. The hero was gorgeous.
So — re-vision. What if I ended the novel not as a Happily Every After (HEA) but as a Happy For Now (HFN)? With a HFN ending, I could turn the material into a trilogy — two more novels, with these two main characters.
Assuming that the first novel sells, of course… 🙂 Today, we’re in publishing heaven. You can do what you like. No editor or literary agent can tell you: “Yes, but… that won’t sell.” You can find out for yourself, very quickly, whether something sells or not. When you publish your ebook, readers buy your novel, or they don’t.
I started the rewrite of the novel this morning — I’m having huge fun, and I’m not trying.
I don’t need to try, and neither do you.
Stop trying. Just do… without doing.
Wu Wei: discover how to do… without doing
Wu Wei is the Taoist concept of doing, without doing. Without trying, in other words.
“The advice is as maddening as it is inescapable. It’s the default prescription for any tense situation: a blind date, a speech, a job interview, the first dinner with the potential in-laws. Relax. Act natural. Just be yourself.”
Several years ago, I read Benjamin Hoff’s The Tao of Pooh. It’s a lovely little book; Hoff discusses Wu Wei. From a blog post by Kathy Gottberg:
“Hoff goes on to say, “When you work with Wu Wei, you put the round peg in the round hole and the square peg in the square hole. No stress. No struggle…Wu Wei doesn’t try. It doesn’t think about it. It just does. And when it does, it doesn’t appear to do much of anything. But Things Get Done.””
Stop trying. Write.
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