Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The "Me" Factor

I've written about 25,000 words of a novel that I started several months ago. The project has been very stop and go, as other things need tending, like art projects and short stories, and pretty much life in general. One of the things that has stopped my progress on this particular work is what might be called writer's block. I say "might" because I know it's not.

Early on in the writing of this novel, I was sending chapters to a crit partner of mine. Shawna has always been very honest with me about my writing, which is something I love about her. If a scene or whatever falls flat, she tells me. If my wording is wonky, she tells me. If I'm putting too much in or leaving too much out, she tells me. At one point, I had sent her a chapter and she told me it just wasn't working.

"Not powerful enough. It's missing something."

After some thought and a few emails back and forth, she finally figured out what was missing.

"You," she said. "Everything that makes your writing yours is what's missing."

I'd been focused on trying to write a story I thought would sell to a particular publisher that would be opening for submissions soon. I wanted very much to be taken by them, and I found myself holding back because this story has the potential to turn rather dark. I was trying to not let it because I didn't think the publisher would go for it.

And the story suffered.

When I went back and wrote as "me" it all started coming together.

A similar experience just happened this week. A local sci-fi/fantasy/horror convention is coming up, and they are taking submissions for designs for the official con t-shirt. I decided to give it a shot. The problem, again, came about when I tried figuring out what *they* would want. Everything I sketched was awful. I crumpled up page after page.

And then it hit me--do something I would like. Don't worry about them. If my design is meant to win, it will. If not, I've done the best I could, rather than a bad attempt at what they're looking for. Immediately, the design came together.

I have no idea yet if either of these projects will be selected, but I am satisfied to be putting my all into them. It turns tedious story-telling (or drawing) into a flow of creative energy when I let go of preconceptions and go with what is in my heart.

Do you ever find yourself stuck on a project because you get side-tracked by thinking more about the person on the receiving end?


Megan said...

The biggest lesson I have learned is to be yourself! I notice it in my posts. When I try to write something that I think my blogs audience will like, it gets less comments then when I write what I want to write and what's on my mind.

There is something about a personal touch in every one's writing that no one else will ever be able to have no matter how hard they try. You have your own personal style and so do I. It's just the way God made us. :-)


KM Wilsher said...

Oh yeah!

I liked this: I've done the best I could, rather than a bad attempt at what they're looking for

have a wonderful weekend, Kat

Anonymous said...

Spot on!!!

We gotta write how we write. . . not how we think something would want us to write.

Press on, my friend!!

Megan said...

Hey! I started an online Christian girls magazine called Inspired and I was wondering if you were interested in subscribing or joining the staff. Please check out our website: for more info!


Anonymous said...

Be true to yourself, the person God made you to be. That being said, I think it's common for us writers to try to produce material that will be accepted. We are, after all, trying to get our stuff published! But you're right, we can't sacrifice who we are in the process.