Monday, May 12, 2014

Motivational Monday


BUT I WILL NEVER AGAIN FORCE MY STORY
TO FIT A MOLD JUST BECAUSE I THINK IT SHOULD, 
BECAUSE I'VE LABELED MY PROCESS LESSER THAN.
I MAY NOT BE A NATURAL STORYTELLER,
BUT I AM A STORYTELLER ALL THE SAME.
(Therese Walsh)

During the last few blog hops, I noticed a lot of us struggle with our writing process. For me, writing stories comes easier. It's the novel writing that gives me trouble. 

I spent many years forcing my ideas into this list and that outline structure. (I love a good list and I'm pretty organized in real life, but my creative side balked loudly and rudely at this process.) I filled in endless character sheets. (Do I really need to know what kind of gum my protagonist's sister chewed in fifth grade?!) I wrote in a frenzy without looking back. I wrote slowly, editing and revising each page before moving on. I used index cards, notebooks, binders, different color pens. I let people read early pages. I refused to let people read early pages. 

I felt like the person who has tried almost every diet out there to no avail. (Oh, wait. I'm that person, too.)

So, after all that effort and angst, do you see a novel out there with my name on it? No. And while there are a number of reasons for that, some outside of my control, I think one of the biggest reasons is that I didn't trust myself. I didn't trust myself to tell the story my way

Don't get me wrong - I'm all for diving into the craft. Learn, read, listen, apply what works for you. But in the end, it comes down to trusting your gut, trusting your internal storyteller to tell the story the way it wants to, the way it needs to, be told. 

24 comments:

  1. Very true. I'm a pantser and sometimes I feel bad for not planning things meticulously, especially when it all goes belly up! But I struggle to plan, I need to see the characters in action to know how the story should be told. Then to rectify it, I just need to pay attention to the characters more. I'm sure you will get there with your novel, you're a great writer and you need to have faith in yourself!

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    1. I'm the same way about seeing my characters in action. That's how I learn about them. The more I try to do and plan about them ahead of time, the more stiff and awkward they are on the page. I give myself a lot more work that way - going back and fixing and changing things - but the process for me. At least for the moment. :)

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  2. It's a funny line, isn't it? Learning and improving on the one hand, and letting us be ourselves and doing what works for us on the other? I'm a statitician by day and if I force structure on the story early on, it sounds like a case report for a psychiatric patient. Much better to just FLOW and then impose any necessary but missing stuff on the rewrite (at least for me)--it is why I do FAST first drafts... I need to just get out of my way.

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    1. I think I need this tattooed on my forehead - "I need to just get out of my way." But done so I can read it when I look in the mirror. Hmm, maybe just writing it on a Post-It and sticking it on the mirror would be easier…. :)

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  3. So true. It is good to know the craft, but if you don't write your story the way that works for you, that craft isn't going to make your story any better. You have to kind of meld craft and your own personal style. (Did that make sense?)

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    1. That definitely made sense, Patricia. And I agree. :)

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  4. That is exactly one of the reasons I failed with my first wip. I tried to mak it fit into what I thought was "the mold" and it turned into a total disaster. Writing the story from the heart and using the craft to make that story shine bright is the only way to go. We shouldn't try to fit into a mold, we need to make our own. You'll get there Madeline, your book will get published, write it and then make is shine. :)

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    1. That's a great way to put it, Elise - write it first from the heart then use the craft to shine it up.

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  5. I agree with Patrica's comment, too. I always try to do my own thing, whatever my gut tells me is the right move to make, but I still worry that my gut is a big, fat liar. Guess maybe I should work on trusting my gut a little more.

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    1. Yeah, I often wonder if my gut is a big, fat liar, too. Trusting ourselves will go a long way to gaining creative confidence. Easier said than done, I know.

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  6. What bothers me is that sometimes people criticize other people's writing method...there really is no one right way. It's whatever gets you writing and brings success.

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    1. Once you realize that there "is no one right way," then writing becomes a lot easier and a lot more fun again. :)

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  7. Need to throw caution to the wind and just trust then!

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  8. This brought tears to my eyes. Fearless writing sometimes feels lonely and unstable. But you have to be true to yourself!

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    1. Fearless writing really can be scary sometimes....

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  9. You're that diet girl too, eh? I'm pretty good with short stories, too. It's so much easier to just plunge in and get it done, without thinking about it. Honestly, we should write longer works the same way we do the shorter stuff.

    I am looking forward to your novel, when it's done, Madeline, because your short stories blow me away and I think that some day your novel will be just as awesome.

    By the way, love the quote. I saw a bit of it on my blogroll and had to come see what you were yelling about!

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    1. Ha! :)

      I've tried applying my story skills to my novel process but it hasn't worked so well so far.

      And thanks for those kind words about my stories and - fingers crossed! - novel. :)

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  10. I just jump into the story writing with my novels. Sometimes there's some small planning, but not much. It works for me, but I also recognize that it's going to take a ton of revisions. Endless revisions. Maybe I need to try the more planning thing because the editing gets overwhelming sometimes.

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    1. Either way it feels overwhelming to me, whether in the beginning with planning or at the end with revisions.

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  11. This is a great post! When I first joined a critique group with the my just written first book, I was asked if I had a plot outline, character summaries, etc. I didn't and I felt a little inadequate. I thought about all this before I wrote my second book, then went back to what I like to do: sit down and write. After a career of list-making, planning experiments, organizing the work of people of my lab, the freedom of just sitting down and letting my imagination go is phenomenal. To any write, I say - do it your way!

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    1. I love how you thought about using outlines etc but then did "what I like to do: sit down and write" and how it was "phenomenal." Good for you! :)

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  12. I believe in trusting your gut too, and allowing room for the reader to fill in some of the details of your characters, plot, and setting on their own. I actually prefer stories where not everything is spelled out for me.

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