Tuesday, June 16, 2020

5 Writing Pep Talks

I spend a lot of my time coaching other writers as they slog through their stories, but I find when it's my turn to sit down at the computer, that same level of emotional charity seems to disappear. Can you relate? If so, let me share a couple of things that I tell myself as I type away on my next story. 

It's okay to write it how it comes out. As I draft through a story, I tend to forget how messy it can become. So when I've reached page 200 and realize how many words now stand between me and the draft I was dreaming about, I start to get overwhelmed. This is where I have to take a breath and remind myself that getting that story down in real life words is a feat. It means that I've actually done what I set out to do. I put the time in, and the story is there, ready for a revision. Because you can't revise what hasn't been written yet.

Your story is worth being told. Do you ever get weeks into a draft and wonder if the story is worth it after all? For me, it's usually after I've hit a bit plot hole. One that I just can't seem to figure out. This is often the question I get most often as an editor and book coach. Friends, your story is worth being told if for no other reason than something about it drove you to the computer to try writing it. So keep writing. Write through your bad days. Write through your bad drafts. Because there's a story under there somewhere waiting to be told.

It's great to try new things. Who cares if you do it well in draft one (or two)? You want to try out a new point of view? Awesome, go for it. Did you just finish a meta-story that made you drool? Try writing one. Are you a thriller writer who's got an inkling for YA? Try it out. What's the worst that can happen? Besides, no one is perfect starting out. So go make some lovely mistakes and grow as a writer.  

Being stuck is totally normal. The first 100 pages flew by. You didn't even have to think about what was coming next because you knew your story. But something changed. Suddenly your protagonist doesn't like the name Anna, now she wants to be Nicole and you're not sure what Nicole wants anymore. I have been here so, so many times. Stuck with a character, a plot point, a world I thought I understood (and did until page 101). Now what? Well, friends, now we take a deep breath and choose one of two paths. Write through it (discovery/pantsing drafting) or we go back to the storyboard. Either way, this is a great place to be because you're listening to that story of yours. It said, "Wait!" and you said, "Okay." There's communication there, and where there's talking your writer curiosity is bound to follow.  

My manuscript was rejected. Sigh. I've been here too. You've worked so hard, and now it's been rejected. What now? It depends on your personality. For some, it's great to send it out again, while for others, it's better to take a breath before trying again. I've worked for a couple of publishers as well as journals, and I always hated sending rejection letters. I read so many awesome stories, but for one reason or another, they weren't a good fit for us. It had nothing to do with the writer or the value of their story. But I've also been on the other side of that rejection, and it can really sting. All this is to say, there's a spot for your story. So, when you're feeling up to it, try again.   

What are some pep talks your find you give yourself often? I'd love to know, so make sure to comment below. Until next time, happy writing friends.


Nightingale said...

Very good advice! Though I know the ending, I'm stuck in a story and can't seem to write those last few chapters. I have had outside stressors, but it seem to finish those last few chapters. I'm discouraged with my writing. Does this ever happen to you? How do you handle it?

Maureen said...

What a great post! Sometimes writing can get so discouraging, this is some good advice and encouragement.

Diane Burton said...

Great post, April. It came at a good time for me. I've been stuck with the "almost end" of my wip. I've been so discouraged. During the long quarantine, I didn't even want to open the file. I'm going to take you advice and try to work through my issues. Thanks.

Wendy Dutwin said...

April, this was wonderful and exactly what I needed to read today as I slog through the current draft of my short story. Thank you for all your wisdom and dedication to the craft of writing and the support of other writers like me!

Elizabeth Alsobrooks said...

April, I need a kick in the butt just go get to the slugging level. I really need to make myself set up a schedule or set word count goals. Thanks for the pep talk.