Alright I’ll admit it, I’m OVERWHELMED.
When I started writing full-time three years ago, I was very naïve about the process. I wrote for the pure and simple joy of writing. As I learned more about publishing, I discovered that simply putting words on paper was not enough to make a great story. There were so many other things to consider (or so I was told).
In the last year alone, I’ve had these pieces of advice imparted to me – each one almost a contradiction to the other:
– Only use “said” for dialogue tags
– Don’t use dialogue tags at all – put character in front of action and tag is inferred
– Don’t’ use filter words (felt, saw, heard)
– Only use filter words sparingly
– Absolutely, positively don’t use adverbs
– Adverbs are okay if used sparingly
See a pattern here?
It’s easy to get lost in the sea of advice – and honestly I have. After reading so many articles, and listening to so many people talk about writing, I’ve begun to question my own craft. Part of this is my fault. These people are all experts, right? I should be listening.
In truth, this is only partially correct. I should be listening to what makes sense for ME. If the only way to express what my character is feeling is by saying, “she felt his hand on the small of her back,” then that’s what I should write. If the character walks slowly, then I should say that without being afraid to use the much maligned adverb.
I blame a lot of my writing inertia of late on taking in too much information and not listening to what my own heart is saying. Much of this I blame on gorging on social media, especially Twitter. When an agent posts advice about writing, I devour each word, and wonder how I should incorporate into my own work. When a well-known author tweets about how to write, “the perfect synopsis,” I quickly check the link. While all of this is important info, it also all becomes “advice overload.” Again, paralyzing in a way because it makes you question your own work and instincts.
My own writing “block” these past weeks has made me step back and analyze what I want to do with my work. I want to get back to feeling the rush of putting together a great scene without worrying about whether or not I’ve got too many dialogue tags, or if I’m going to get dinged for using an adverb or filter word.
With that thought in mind, I’m going to step back from social media. Don’t get me wrong, I think Twitter, and other forms of social connection, are important in building writing connections, and creating an author brand, but I also think it can become so overwhelming it takes away from the joy of writing.
With spending less time online, I’m hoping to find that joy again. It will be interesting to see if I can put all the advice out of my head and simply plunge forward with whatever feels right for my characters. When my beta readers and CPs get this new manuscript I guess I’ll find out if this was the right step. The one good thing is I’ll know I wrote it all purely from instinct, and not from some self-imposed structure I find myself constrained by right now.
I’ll let you know how it all goes.
And no, this doesn’t mean I am swearing off Twitter entirely – I’d miss everyone too much. It just means I’m going to pull way back and focus on what is important right now – me and the writing.