Coffee and Marshmallows

 

I’m sipping coffee and considering grabbing a handful of vegan marshmallows to munch on while I drink (because gelatin [extracted from the skin, bones, and connective tissues of animals such as cattle, chicken, pigs, and fish] is disgusting).

I will probably write this morning. I will definitely continue outlining the new story idea I came up with over the weekend.

I had a really interesting conversation with my husband yesterday in which I realized I have gotten too focused on the mechanics of writing lately (plot structure, character arcs, etcetera). I’ve been limiting my writing-self as a result of all the information I’ve collected over the last few months.

While I believe it is good to know about the technical aspects of creating a story, I don’t believe such knowledge should hinder creativity. My husband and I have always liked weird and/or unique musicians and artists who break out of the confines of what is typical in their fields. Sometimes these artists achieve astonishing success for what they do, becoming trend setters, and sometimes they don’t (think Talking Heads, The Beatles, Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody). I’ve never enjoyed fitting in or being a follower; so why should I let my story telling be any different?

I think the problem started when I spent MONTHS and MONTHS editing my first manuscript. I revised it multiple times and after being done for two months, decided I still need to revise it again 😰. In all my projects since that editing experience, I’ve been more focused on writing better drafts to start with (more organized and plotted) and editing as I go so that the final editing/revising process isn’t as labor intensive and exhausting. When I wrote my first manuscript, an adventure fantasy, I didn’t know anything about plot mapping or how to develop characters outside of their external struggles, thus all the problems when editing. Now that I am at least aware of those factors though, I think, and hope, I can get away with not focusing on them so that I don’t restrict my creativity.

I’ve followed as other authors like K.A. Botello and A.S. Akkalon share their editing journeys, and I’ve come to realize that my nightmarish editing experience was completely normal. If anything, the reason I feel the need to revise that particular manuscript again, is because I didn’t do as great of a job editing as I believed (unlike Akkalon and Botello). No matter how much I edit or overanalyze as I write, I’ll likely still have a  major editing project ahead of me with each manuscript I complete. I know it’ll get easier. The more we write and edit–the more practice we get–the more we will improve our skills and the easier the whole process will become.

Happy motivational advice of the day: don’t let fear, self-doubt, the occasional tediousness of the task, or real or imagined peer pressure stop you from doing what you love. If you find yourself in a creative box, pop your head out before you do your thinking 😉

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7 thoughts on “Coffee and Marshmallows

  1. Thanks for the mention! 🙂 You’re certainly not alone in your hellish editing experience.

    You make a very interesting point about when obsessing too much over the “rules” of the craft can get in the way of writing. I think it’s easy to get overwhelmed by everything you are and aren’t supposed to be doing, and end up not doing anything at all. This is one of the reasons I suggest (not that anyone asked ;)) that novice writers write a complete book before they start trying to learn about writing craft. Get used to being creative before you place fetters on your creativity. And why it’s usually considered a bad idea to think too hard about beautiful prose and minimising your use of “that” on the first draft.

    As you probably know, I love reading about writing craft, but at times it gets to be too much, and then I make the decision to not stress about any of the things I’ve learned and just write. Inklings of what I know tend to end up in my writing anyway. Go forth and create! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m on my eighth manuscript and it’s just now become a problem! I think it’s directly related to WHEN you start reading the writing advice. I agree though, first drafts are always just first drafts. I shouldn’t stress so much about making them perfect. I’m totally going to steal one of your lines as a quote and tweet it btw. You’ll see it soon 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much for the mention! It helps so much to hear from other writers how frustrating the editing process can be. When I was in college studying theatre, I got frustrated by how many rules there were to acting, and one my professors told me that we “learn the rules so that we can forget them.” I think writing is the same way. It is good to know all the rules, but when you are in the act of creating, all that information has to take a backseat.

    Liked by 2 people

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