I mentioned a bit about my writing process in my post on Saturday, and I’ve been thinking about it and wanted to expand on it a little bit. Maybe it will help it sink into my brain and I can actually start doing it rather than what I always seem to do which is doubt myself and spin my wheels.
I’ve never written for a challenge or used a writing prompt before (I guess you could say that isn’t true when you have to write papers in high school and college, but I didn’t really think about the school aspect of it until just seconds ago). In the past, I just let whatever was around me inspire me. There have been times when my head was so full of words, I obsessed for hours until it finally stopped or I forced myself to stop. I didn’t really think about getting it down on paper in order to stop the madness and the few times I tried, it never quite turned out the way it was in my head so I didn’t pursue it.
When I first started the blog it was to write more consistently; to actually work on the project I started forever ago; and I loved reading the entries for Chuck’s challenges on Terribleminds so much, I decided to try my hand at a few. Needless to say, I was surprised at the results. I was surprised I was able to come up with stories for the challenges and that they actually fit into the scope of the challenge. I have enjoyed it so much, I added Turn-a-trope to my weekly challenge list because one just wasn’t enough, apparently.
Having a few months under my belt now, I have noticed that the same thing keeps happening over and over again.
When I first read a prompt, I am usually hit with an idea within the first few minutes. Even if it takes some time to formulate, I usually have the original idea fairly early. For reasons I am just starting to sort out, I usually tell myself that idea is lame, or it doesn’t fit or any number of negative things I can think of in order not to tell that particular story. So, I spend another day or two trying to come up with something different. Usually, I am met with silence in my head, or I think of a cool idea, but I just can’t seem to tell the story completely. When I finally get frustrated, usually to the point I almost give up on the challenge, the original idea will shine its bright sparkly goodness into my thoughts again and I jump on it and spit out the words within an hour or so. I think there is only once where I listened to the story that originally spurted into my thoughts and banged it out and published it within about an hour.
Which leads me to the question, why don’t I trust myself?
I think it’s more than that actually. For starters, I am pretty new at this and I’m still learning what my process actually is. Having said that, this particular thing has happened multiple times, so when will I learn to change it and actually trust the original idea and let it happen?
I’m sure there are many reasons, including confidence issues and wanting to be as cool as everyone else telling stories for the same challenge/prompt. But one keeps glaring at me, spewing its nastiness into my head, so I thought I would share it so you, dear reader, don’t fall into a similar trap. Actually, if I’m being honest, it’s really to hammer it into my own head that I don’t need to listen to this voice anymore, and if it somehow helps you, then awesome!
For a little back story, I started thinking about this writing thing quite a few years back. I even started on the project because it wouldn’t get out of my head and it just had to be told. I didn’t actually write that many words, but the idea was solid. I knew how the story began and how it ended. Fast forward a few years and I ended up in a relationship with someone who said “I’m a writer” when you asked him what he did or what he wanted to do. I’m not here to judge him or put him down for that. I’m sure he had(s) every intention of writing that book someday. I hope he does. But when we were together, I only rarely saw his writing and we were together for three years. He talked about it a lot though. On the other hand, I never felt comfortable sharing my aspirations with him because I didn’t want him to feel like I was jumping on his bandwagon, or something. When I finally did get up the courage to tell him my story and send him what I had written so far, he was less than supportive. I don’t remember his exact words, but he said something like “there is too much emotion in your writing. Most people don’t want to feel like this when they read something.”
I know what you’re thinking. Why the hell did I let his words breed insanity in my head? Well, I don’t know, but I can tell you that they affected me. I started over-thinking my process and wondering if I really should tell my story and would people really want to read it or anything I wrote…
The thing is, I like it when I am hit with emotion in stories. I like being emotionally connected to a character. The books I have a hard time reading are the ones that don’t have that. Which stands to reason I would write like that as well. And I do. But it took some pretty serious feedback and cajoling from a few people I love and trust in my life now to actually get the courage up to start this blog and to share my stories. Not that I wouldn’t have had a hard time doing it without this voice in my head, but it has added an extra layer that, frankly, I don’t need. Who does? But every time I have my first idea, one of the reasons I reject it is because it is too emotional or too close to home – things that directly relate to those stupid words from someone I trusted at the time.
I guess what I’m trying to say is trust yourself. Trust your process. Other people’s opinions and words are okay and they can help, but sometimes you need to throw them in the trash where they belong. If only it was as easy to do that as just typing these words, but I do know that the more I tell myself the things that will actually help, the less I hear the other things that sap my confidence and make it harder to write.
Thanks for stopping by and listening to me rant about my writing process for a bit. How about you? Do you have something similar that keeps banging you over the head? I’d love to hear from you!
Happy writing everyone!