Find Out Who You Are

This whole publishing-a-book thing has been the wildest ride of my life. I used to spend hours reading industry blogs written by agents, editors, anyone who knew more than I did. I was inundated with advice on how to write, how not to write, what constitutes a good novel, what doesn't, that outlines are required for success, and on and on and on.

And on.

And I let these blogs paralyze me. I found myself thinking things like, I'll never be successful because I don't outline. Or I'll never be a published author because I don't even know what the three act structure is.

But I'd written books. I felt like I knew how to craft a story. But I didn't outline. I didn't frame my novels. I didn't do anything all the blogs said you have to do.

Then one day, I decided it didn't matter. So what if I didn't do all those things? So what? There are all different ways to write a novel. And so my best advice is this: Find out what kind of writer you are.

Embrace that. Be that kind of writer. Let everything else melt away.

Have you ever felt like this? What kind of writer are you? What have you found that works for you?

13 comments:

AE Rought said...

I used to be a pantser with plotitudinal tendencies. I'd start books, write scenes out of order and then puzzle me way to complete book. The only thing that's change is outlining a little before hand. I still veer north, south, east and west of the plot points. I still write scenes out of order. But with the outline at least I'm not sitting midnovel wondering where the hell I go next. ^_^

Mary said...

I'm moving past that stage right now (I hope...). Too much information, too much helpful advice, while appreciated, kind of froze me into inaction. Was I doing it *wrong*?!? Maybe I was. Maybe, because I used adverbs sometimes or didn't outline and didn't know every detail of my characters' lives before starting, I was.

But...moving past that. I write how I write. Sure, it's great to try new things - they may work out better or not - but I have to tell myself not to get overwhelmed with everything.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Best. Advice. Ever.
I also get frozen when I start reading too much writing advice. I was especially freaked out when I read that you should never write stories that happened to you because you won't give the descriptions that readers need. Whoa. My whole book is about what happened to me. I'm glad I didn't toss it out.
I think if you have a solid reading background - it's built in to know when your writing is on track.

Christine Danek said...

Yeah, like right now. I'm trying to figure out the best way to move past it. I know I have a lot to learn, but I think I've come a long way. It feels like I need to catch up, but never really get there. I know, I'm silly thinking this way, and one day, it should come. I just have to get over the whole I'm not good enough or fast enough thing. Just write it.
Thanks and have a great weekend!

B.E. Sanderson said...

:hugs: Thank you. Reading stuff like that paralyzes me, too, and I find myself thinking the same things. Then I slap myself around and just write - which is what I need to do right now. Stop worrying whether I'm following anyone else's expectations or rules, and just get the words on the paper.

Cat said...

Thank you.
You don't know how much I needed to hear something like that.
I write oddly, don't outline, and don't follow any kind of structure. My plot changes against my will. So that's good to hear, haha.

A. Grey said...

I have to say that I never thought that I wouldn't make it for any particular reason.... until I started getting those 'great writing, but not for me' rejections. Everyone who's gone through them tells me that they're a good sign, that I'm just a little closer to getting published because I'm getting feedback.

But oddly, these sorts of rejections have made me despair in a way that flat rejections and all those vats of information that swear you have to do 'thus and so' never did. I suppose it's just my turn to go through the doubting phase, but I feel like that dork on the sideline of the basket ball game, and everyone already playing thinks I'm a nice kid, but they don't want me on THEIR team...

Thanks for this post. It reminds me to try not to worry about other people TOO much and to just be myself and write what/how I write and do my best.

Jessica A. Briones said...

Sometimes too much information is just that... too much. I find that when I read blogs, books or attend my worshop I end up more confused than when I started. I like to think I know what I'm doing, but after being isntructed and reading about the craft I am not sure I do. Like you I feel paralyzed and when we really think about it, it's not as complex as it sounds we just have to write! Keep in mind that anything that needs fixing can be dealt with when we edit the MS. I don't outline, I don't follow a plot structure either and hell if I know what the three act structure is, thanks now I am going to go ... look it up, lol.

Happy Writing everyone.!

John Sankovich said...

I'm definately one that writes without outlines. I might jot some notes down on big events that I want to happen, but after that I let the story unfold as I write it. It works for me as I've written 3 books and 4 screenplays. So I can relate to your process. The only downside is that that editing takes a lot more work after the first draft is done. Maybe someday I'll outline.

Stephsco said...

Thanks for posting this. I'm coming to realize that outlines, even general ones, help me out, so I'm slowly steering toward that. I feel like setting up some framework enables me to write more freely. I recently saw an author who mentioned all the short stories she has getting published all over, and she is in the middle of two book drafts. I am still on lowly book #1. I guess I felt a little overwhelmed that she had done SO MUCH work in what I felt to be a short time frame. But she also writes full time and has a book deal, so she probably has deadlines. I have to remind myself I"m at the beginning and not to measure my progress against others.

Mflick1 said...

I am anti-outline! Only because I am a panster (sp). I don't write from beginning to end; I write all over the place. I think this makes me have to fine tune a lot more than someone else, but Im OK with that. I am glad you don't worry about following the "perfect" writing process. I can't wait for your novel to be published!

Jemi Fraser said...

I still get paralyzed with the overload of information and advice! So I tend to step back, breathe and plow on ahead :)

Flint Ory said...

Great Post! I could truly identify with the scenario. I spent a good portion of a year torchering myself on HOW to write. It took me a while but here's what I came up with: THERE IS NO BLUEPRINT.

There is a lot of great (and bad) advice out there, but as an author we have to figure out what works for us.

That being said, I think the journey to find that method is incredibly important. Authors have to understand the craft in order to figure out what works for them. To quote Captain Barbosa - "The code is more what you'd call 'guidelines' than actual rules."