(I think I’ve been reading too much G.K. Chesterton. He LOVES to write in and about paradoxes. Anyway….)
We all deal with writing paradoxes. And when we’re starting out, it takes a while sometimes to understand that this is the way writing actually works. As strange as it may sound, we writers know:
1. WE ARE WORKING WHEN WE ARE DOING “NOTHING.”
The following count as work for a writer:
- Staring off into space while everyone else is watching television or a movie
- Sitting on the couch, maybe staring out into the garden
- Taking an obscenely long time to wash dishes, pass the vacuum cleaner, or fold laundry
You see, when we are doing these things, we are thinking. Plotting. Making connections between characters and events in our story. We are doing prep work for the actual “work” of writing.
That is necessary and important stuff!!!
2. IDEAS COME WHEN WE STOP TRYING TO FORCE THEM.
This one kills me every time. I have a plot hole. Or I’m stuck with writer’s block. I spend days trying to think through the problem, to solve it with logic or with deduction. You know: to take things from point A, to B, then C.
Then I give up in exasperation and devote the next couple of days to non-related pursuits. Out of the blue the solution will hit me. No warning. No real cause that I can usually mark: the ideas just come when I’m not looking for them.
This is also true for ideas for blog posts.
3. WE ADVANCE SOMETIMES BY BACKING UP.
This one is killer to the psyche when you don’t realize that this is how writing often goes.
We sometimes feel like failures, and get frustrated, and want to throw things when we’ve written seventy-five pages and then realize we’ll need to toss forty of those and rewrite everything from a different angle of approach, or take things in an entirely different direction. We feel like talentless hacks.
Honestly, it’s okay to be annoyed when this happens. But don’t think that makes you a bad writer. This happens to everyone, I think (or at least, it plagues a fair number of us. Especially those of us who write without outlines).
4. KNOWING YOUR WRITING STINKS IS A GOOD THING
First drafts are always awful. And if you don’t end up thinking your first draft is bad (even if it’s “awesomely bad”), you have no chance of fixing the things that are dragging it down.
The idea, of course, is that your writing will only temporarily stink. Through editing and the input of others, you turn that problematic beginning into a solid novel.
So, what have your experiences been with the paradoxes of writing? How did you learn them? Have you learned one I’ve missed? Let us know!
If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy these other lists about writing, blogging, and marketing fiction.
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