Why attempting the perfect novel may be hindering you

Why attempting the perfect novel may be hindering you

For everyone who writes there are a million ways to get those words down on paper. If you’re anything like I am you stress over the perfect word wondering if your reader will get it. Is it as compellingly written out as it was in your head? You may even be tempted to labor over every paragraph for days at a time moving from page to page until the last chapter rings in your head like prose from a NYTBS. And even then, you aren’t sure, so you rewrite it—again. You could take months or even years with this routine and still not have a finished novel. The truth is, although there is no right or wrong way to edit and rewrite, working that prose like a drill sergeant with OCD can kill your flow and leave you feeling creatively bankrupt.

The problem with perfection is that it truly does not exist. But that is not the only problem. Passion and creativity are the driving forces of fiction. Sometimes it is easier to simply let it flow to get it out. Trust your instincts. If you think the first scene is too early to kill of the father, you’re probably right.  You may think, well, I’m new at this so I’ll get the opinion of a couple of other folk. Well, you’ve seen that show Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Remember the episodes when the contestant asks the audience and gets practically the same margin in response for all choices presented to them?  It is then the frustrated contestant actually has to make his or her own decision. Imagine. Go with your flow. One false move, such as fixing it to please someone else well inevitably lead to another false move and then another and then…well you get it the idea.

I try to keep in mind while I’m writing that I could indeed be wrong. This entire novel could be headed in the wrong direction. But I also know the worse that could happen is that I’ll have to rewrite. But once the story is done how will you know when you are indeed finished? You will know. The story will be told. The issues will be resolved. You will have created tension and your characters will be developed. When this sense of completion hits you, stop writing.

Perfection

Writing is like housecleaning—there always something left to do. There will always a paragraph that could’ve be written tighter, stronger. There is always room for more intense character developed. Stop. Save it for the next novel. Now it is time to send it off to your editor and let he/she take a stab at it, or, even better, take it to your beta reader. But stand in the confidence that you have written the best story for the experience and skill and creativity you now possess.

And look on the bright side—the next novel will be even better.

Be committed to the craft…

Get Focused, Stay on Track

Get Focused, Stay on Track

 

 

 

There are a million things that will come in to view when you try to bring your goals in to focus.

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Everything isn’t meant to be a part of your objectives. It does not mean that you do not support, but…

funny-people-protest_Save Twinkie

 

Know on what to set your attention.

 

And then….

focusGo and get it.

Whenever you don’t feel good enough–write through it

I have a friend who says whenever she finishes a book she gets this overwhelming dark feeling that it will fail, even with numerous books to her credit, a smothering sensation undermines her confidence and suddenly it feels as if she’s back at book #1. It will not be successful, the voice mocks, and no one will read it and how truly ridiculous it is to even think that this story was a good idea in the first place.  But every time she finishes a book she presses forward. Every time.

Her desire to succeed is greater than her fear of failure.

But what about the rest of us? How many times have we taken these feelings to heart and backed off of a project or lessen the frequency in which we write or read or seek an agent or send out another query letter? In reality, all it takes is a shift in our thinking paradigm to throw off our game, to become less enthused or to stop reaching for that muse. There is a scripture in the Bible that reads, …for as he thinks in his heart so is he.” When we start thinking that we can’t…well…we can’t.

Good Thoughts override the bad

That is why it is important to flood our hearts with good thoughts. Simply ignoring the bad thoughts is not enough. Even when no one else is encouraging us, we must remind ourselves every day that we are good enough, we are walking in God’s plan for our life and that is enough. Those other voices only come to discourage and would not come at all if we weren’t pursuing something worthy.

Feelings are Not Facts

When we get those feelings of discouragement it is important to remember that they are feelings and not facts. Feelings fluctuate depending on that which we constantly meditate. To change your feelings, change that on which you meditate. Think of your successes, your victories, and the message of your work. Fix your mind on such things, in other words be unmovable in your stance. Does this mean those bad thoughts will never pay you a visit? Not at all. It means that overtime your good thoughts will silence the bad ones and you will prove to be victorious.

 

The Importance of Self-Discipline

The Importance of Self-Discipline

I hate to be told I can’t do something, in other words put under restriction because I was not able to abide by more liberal rules. For example dietary restrictions: I’ve consumed too much salt over the years and now my allowable sodium intake is suddenly stripped down to mere granules or the time I was practically put on bedrest during my pregnancy because I couldn’t grasp the meaning of the term, Take it Easy.

I don’t know anyone who likes these kinds of restrictions but often they are necessary when we don’t harness our desires. It seems a ridiculous statement: I can’t control myself! Yet, if we look back at many of our past failures, past mistakes most come down to our unwillingness to tell ourselves ‘no’.

Temper Tantrum

I believe God has given us all the ability to reject those urges, to deny ourselves something that or body or soul wants, all, of course, for the greater good. How many relationships would be saved, disasters averted and dreams realized if only we could have made a temporary sacrifice for a better, more permanent reward?  Yes, I know that hindsight is 20/20. But as Maya Angelou once said, “When you know better you do better.”

Only when we recognize the times our bodies are crying out and acting like spoil brats can we learn to hush the voices within. The key is to spot when a tantrum is brewing and prepare our answer to the outburst with a resounding: ‘No’. No to another hour of T.V. when we have a synopsis to write, ‘no’ to another slice of cake or pie because ultimately it makes us sluggish or sleepy and unable to complete the tasks at hand.

When we practice no we tell our bodies who is in charge. We feel more confident because we are now controlling those things which were once controlling us. It is not easy. It takes time to get a grip in each area of our lives, but ultimately it is our responsibility to do so. God has given us that control and using it wisely it is one of the keys to living an ultimate life.