Success only flourishes in perseverance -- ceaseless, restless perseverance.
--Baron Manfred Von Richtofen

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bad Advice

I mentioned before that I am sort of between writing processes right now. I feel that I have lost touch with my writer's intuition, and the organic process of creating that used to guide me. This problem started, I believe, about six years ago when I started attending writing conferences again after many years away.

Now, I love writing conferences and other conventions. I love seeing old friends and meeting new ones. I love visiting, commiserating, and networking. I love attending classes and workshops. But, I think that along they way, I been given some bad advice at these conferences. (Bad for ME, mind you. This advice might be great for other writers.) Outlines, structure, character arcs, etc., etc. are all great things. They are also hampering my creativity. Big time. I feel almost paralyzed when I sit down to write for fear that I'm going about it all wrong.

Something's got to change, and fast.

So, I'm very sorry, but I am ditching story structure. I am ignoring character arc. I'm not outlining. I'm going to sit down and tell stories the way they unfold in my head. The way that feels natural and right to me. Yeah, maybe I am doing it wrong. I don't care anymore. I just want to feel creative again.

We'll see how it goes.


Donna K. Weaver said...

When I try to outline I end up just writing. The story just won't come otherwise.

Terry W. Ervin II said...

There is not one 'right' way to write a novel. Each writer has to discover what works best for them. Trying something else may prove beneficial or detrimental.

Good luck moving forward by going back to something that worked better for you.

Unknown said...

I've learned over the years that not one specific thing or only one method works for everyone. While some people struggle to write a story without structure, others can't write with it.

You have to do what works for you. And I'm glad you have realized what works for you.

If I wrote without structure or character arc I'd have a huge mess on my hands. But that is me. :)

Angie said...

Thanks, all. This writing is definitely not a one-size-fits-all proposition. I think I started to forget that along the way!

Thom said...

I tried being a heavy outliner and I don't think it works for me, either. I don't think I can just free-write my way through, either. I've yet to find my happy medium, but I'm a lot closer now that I threw away my outline and started over. I have a general idea of the place I Want to end up, but I'm a lot more free to explore how to get there. I've got ideas on how to move things along if I start to get stuck, but my daily writing is a lot more organic. Sometimes I deviate significantly from what I remember of my outline, and sometimes I find myself arriving at the same place from a very different direction. So I'm not entirely convinced I get no value from outlining, but I need to accept the outline as One Possibility for how the story can go while leaving myself open to go where the moment takes me. It kind of keeps me in suspense, too, because I still don't know if I'm going to find the ending I originally thought of or something totally different. But since I'm not committed to either option it doesn't matter.

Karen Tuft said...

I'm with you. I was doing just fine until I "learned" that I was apparently going about it wrong. I trusted what the experts were saying instead of myself. The past few years were a struggle as a result.

I decided to trust myself. Shortly after that I discovered that two of my favorite authors follow the same approach to writing that I did (do). Vindication and validation. Do your THANG, sistah!

Angie said...

Thom, I have to find a happy medium too, or I get hopelessly stuck. But it's pretty loose as far as outlines go.

Karen, you go girl! High fives!

T. M. Hunter said...

Myself, I write an outline for each novel from start to finish. The trick to maintaining the creativity is that sometimes, the story just doesn't want to follow the outline exactly, and we have to remember that that's okay too.

I've never paid attention to character arcs (or a lot of other things), either. Maybe I'm doing it wrong too. :-)

Thom said...

I think it must be difficult to be a writer who has achieved some measure of success. Suddenly every "junior" writer looks up to you and wants to know "your secret". It can be tempting to expound your process as "The Way" without stopping to realize that there is more than one way, more often than not. Even some of the generally-acknowledged no-nos are still used by some of the most successful writers of our time, so clearly there are not as many hard-and-fast rules as we like to think. It runs the risk of becoming a Catch-22: We need to find out own way of doing things, and yet if our own way isn't bringing us the success we like, how do we know who to listen to in order to find our "new own way" that will help us succeed? And even there the answer is not the same for everyone.

Angie said...

Whatever you're doing seems to work, Todd.

Thom, that is so true. I think it helps to try something new once in a while and see if it works for you or not.

Elizabeth Mueller said...

That happens to me after I read a self-help book on writing!!! You know what, Angie? These conferences (the material taught there) are geared mainly--in my opinion--for aspiring writers. Seasoned writers like you and I need something beyond that like...

1) "how to capture an endorsement"
2) "knowing what cover hooks your readership"
3) "how to arrange for an interview with the radio/newspaper"
4) "how to interview live"
5) "the proper ways of booksigning"
6) "writing taboo and etiquette among ... writers"
7) "how NOT to market your book and HOW to market yourself"

Can you see where I'm going? The list goes on and on and I wish stuff like this could be out there.

If I were you, I'd have to go back to the way it was before you were published. The innocence of writing for the pure joy of it.

((Hugs)) I'm sorry to hear this is happening to you, it happens to me a lot--especially after instructional because these instructional is NOT gospel but based off of what has worked for other authors and what has worked for them, may not work for you.

Let's keep in touch, I'd LOVE to be your mentor, your idea-bouncer-offer-person. You do have my email, right? (or message me on FB!!!) <3


Angie said...

I do, Elizabeth. I would love that. :)

Danyelle L. said...


I can't wait to see what new strange and wonderful lands you discover. :)

*cupcakes with prink frosting and bright purple stars*