I’ve been listening to interviews via podcasts and Youtube for the past two weeks and distilled some essential truths. I knew these but have never paused to write them down. Thought I’d do that today. Here it is, the culmination of a hours of interviews with writers, editors, and agents.
- There’s no thing such as writer’s block. I’d concluded that myself long ago but happy to hear other writers acknowledge that. What is often called writer’s block can be insecurity, doubt, a lack of self-confidence, uncertainty about where to go next, and anxiety about how it’s all going. It can also just be a mental pause to allow your mind to work things out, re-balance, and find the new direction. I never worry it, just monitor it, like a pot that’s boiling, waiting for the right moment for the next move. Meanwhile, I’ll usually work on some aspect of the novel in parallel. None of this is particularly novel to fiction writing; I had the same issues and followed the same process when I was in the military. Back then, it wasn’t fiction writing, but organizing my mind to create standard operating procedures, emergency checklists, operational plans, performance reviews, etc. The same methodology was employed as a civilian in my roles as a customer service manager, product manager, technical support manager, and analyst.
- You must write everyday. No, breaks ARE permitted. I once believed and fervently followed this. But it can lead to burn out and isolation. Like most things in existence, a balance is required for optimum results. Yet, admittedly, I’m addicted to the writing process. I love imagining what has happened and then chasing the question and answer to what comes next. I enjoy finding new ways of playing with phrases and exploring characters. It’s an entertaining escape.
- Having stated that I don’t need to write every day, I admit, though, that I’m driven to write fiction every day, even if it’s just to add one sentence that suddenly arrives in my head. I never stop writing in my head. I might consciously relegate the current novel in process to a lower priority for a period, but that is usually to permit my brain to address the story and arise with the answer to the question, what next? Besides, even if I’m not doing the novel in process, I’m typically thinking of other stories to write.
- Fiction writing is incredibly immersive. It is for me, but I think writing is a personal matter. How you go about it compare to how I go about it is bound to be different. This list won’t have the same items and slant for you as it does for me.
- There are so many stories to be written, it’s a boundless cornucopia of ideas. The challenge is that they all take time and other resources to develop and complete. Frustrating, fun, and never ending.
- No one else cares about what you’re writing when you’re trying to establish yourself as a writer. Pretty much true, outside of other writers doing the same. In my experience, if this is not true for you, you’re lucky. My family and friends will sometimes ask, “Are you still writing?” The question amuses me. Like, why would I stop? I’ve also learned that I don’t want to share what I’m writing with people when it’s in progress. Excited as I become, I don’t want to jinx it or milk the energy. Besides that, trying to convert what I’m writing, which is meant to be read, into verbal conversation plays tricks with the order of progress. Also, what I had planned often takes unusual spins, so where I thought I was heading takes detours and undergo changes. That’s okay.
- Writers enjoy talking to other writers. Absolutely true for me. I enjoy talking about the process with other writers. Some of that is venting, but I’m also interested in stealing ideas, borrowing habits, and attempting new methods. Unfortunately for me, I’m mostly an introvert, except when plied with alcohol, whereupon I become obnoxious, so going to writer conferences is hit and miss. Sometimes I find a groove with a group there but it’s infrequent enough that I shy away from them now. I did have a writing support group here, but the folks moved away. I considered Zooming with them, but we struggled to find a common time. Lot going on with their families…or so they claimed.
- Writing is a lonely space. Patience and persistence is required.
- Trust yourself. Given the isolation and solitude, this is probably the most challenging for me. I need to write and trust myself — but what if my trust is misplaced? What if I’m so far into my own words that I’m blind to what I’ve written. What if I’m insane and lack talent and ability and don’t realize it? Does it matter if I’m happy writing and striving to translate thoughts into tales?
That’s short of ten. Tell me your writing truths. Help me fill in my list. Cheers