Thursday, June 4, 2020

Move Past Your Backstory

 I spent the last year decluttering and Marie Kondo-ing most of my house. Most, but not all—and I especially avoided one area and that was…paper.

Most writers would understand my love affair with paper, it goes hand and hand with words. Despite most of the writing courses I took being online, I continued to print out the lessons and organize them in a trusty binder for reference. As well as keeping them somewhere on my computer.

There’s just Something about Holding it

If it’s on paper it can be highlighted, and tagged with colorful little sticky notes for easy reference. Problem was, it didn’t seem that I’d referenced many of this information for years—if ever—after the course ended. The result is a plethora of folders, binders, and other reference materials for fiction and freelance writing, in addition to the usual paperwork I’d already went through once in the filing cabinet.

Paralyzed By Preparation

Some of the information is probably long outdated, or not necessary for me since I’m probably either already utilizing these tips, or I’m not going to use them at all. But to get rid of that security blanket of paperwork and binders is scary. I pile them near as if their mere presence will make me a better writer just by osmosis. As if I have allowed pursuing perfection to paralyze me from acting.

Writing courses are wonderful. They’ve helped me so much over the years as I proudly touted one of my favorite expressions of, ‘never stop learning.’ The problem is, when do you stop building your backstory and just start doing?

Starting The Story

Freeing my house of other clutter gave me joy to be able to easily access my favorite things, and not be weighed down by other things that no longer served me at this time of my life. To do that with the papers is to recognize that I’ve already acquired this knowledge and that I just have to continue to put it to use.

We don’t want to see all the ‘backstory’ of what the character did, or the years that built up to the action. We want to see the character at the start a new quest, or fearlessly moving out of their comfort zone. It’s not that they stop learning, it’s that they realize they can apply what they learned, and know when they’ve mastered the knowledge.

The same as if you’ve worked to learn a new skill, or ability, and are just not sure when you can take off the training wheels and not just put them to the side, but actually throw them away. Often that’s when you find the freedom to truly start your story.

What’s Holding You in Your Backstory?

Author Bio: Maureen Bonatch grew up in small town Pennsylvania and her love of the four seasons—hockey, biking, sweat pants and hibernation—keeps her there. While immersed in writing or reading paranormal romance and fantasy, she survives on caffeine, wine, music, and laughter. A feisty Shih Tzu keeps her in line. Find Maureen on her websiteFacebookTwitter

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Nightingale said...

I need to listen to this post! I think I feed in backstory, but need to check. You have me thinking about it.

Diane Burton said...

You wrote: never stop learning. So true! Life is full of changes. We need to adapt and to do that we must learn new things. Paper gets away from me, too. I’m getting better about throwing away paper—in the recycling.

Denise Covey said...

I just read somewhere that the best writing lessons are reading and writing. The courses I've attended I too printed out binders, but rarely look at them, but somehow it's comforting having them around. Writers are a funny bunch, aren't we?