Happy Thursday! You’re alive, and sometimes that’s enough.
Today’s post comes at you a day later since Monday was a holiday here in the states. I’m alive, presently, and surviving on 2-3 cups of Tectonic coffee a day. They’re an online coffee company that delivers to you shortly after roasting. I’ve sampled it in drip, French-press, pour over, and cold brew form. In all ways it is very delicious, very smooth, and well worth your time to check out here.
No responses from agents I’ve already queried, and no new submissions in the last week. I’ve entered into the “I’m Queryin’!” funk which a lot of amateur authors hit where we’ve finished our book. Edited it. Had beta readers glance at it. Edited it again. Then when the time comes to hit ‘Send’ in the query e-mail we yell in our heads, “NO! It’s not good enough!”
So that’s where I’m at.
I’m still thinking about this quote from last week:
So many times stories give me the impression of a writer writing about something. It’s in the story’s tone and flow. It’s in the plot that’s been done a few thousand times before, or is based on something that’s in the news. It’s in characters filtered through the writer’s personal experience, which limits their diversity and individuality.
In short, the writer is present in every sentence, hunched over the reader’s shoulder, which is why so much in these stories sounds like explanation, like the writer worrying that readers won’t “get it” unless they lay out paragraphs of background info. As Elmore Leonard famously said, it sounds like writing.Joe Ponepinto; SOURCE
If a writer being “present” is so wrong, how do you take yourself out of the story? No, really. This isn’t rhetorical. Someone tell me.
Is this the secret, the art, the unmeasurable thing professionals don’t know how to explain? Instead, they just keep saying things like, “Write every day. Read every day. Listen.” Actions with no quantifiable impact on your writing ability but, you know, in time, maybe, possibly, it’ll help you become a better writer.
And that’s just not fair.
It’s not fair there’s no way to chart how much you’ve improved with these tactics. No data, no charts, nothing. All that practice and research goes into creating something that someone still might not like.
So, I guess how do you get past that hump? My first instinct is to scream at the creative inside my mind, “Don’t worry about it! Ignore them! Make the thing you want! Your passions will come through like a scorching inferno, devouring all the critics in a seering fire of innovation!”
All sound advice, sure.
But I believe there’s something deeper. A state of writing when you allow yourself to disconnect from that forward part of your brain that overthinks writing parts. The part that makes sure you have an exposition in the beginning, an exciting conflict, a triggering moment, that your characters sound “real,” that you’ve made sure to write in a marketable way, and so on and so forth. Once you’re past all that, I think tapping into this true creative part of your mind allows you to access the truest writer you are.
An “Avatar State” of sorts, but for writers.
It might take a moment to get on board with this, but I picture a typical writing day. You sit at your cafe table or desk, pull out your tools, a notebook or a laptop. Then, and this is critical:
You silence your mind. You tap into your story. You enter into the Writer State.
I know writing as a creative means you have to automate a lot of things, but I think it’s important to still tap into that raw, painful, exciting side of your story you crafted. For me, it manifests as a mantra, something you repeat in your head as you dive down the story tunnel full of static and moving images you’ve crafted for your story.
“This is my story. It feels like THIS. It sounds like THIS. The weather feels like THIS. Characters act like THIS.”
Now, I’m fully aware this might be difficult for some people. Like me, they might be trying to write with kids, or they might only be able to write late at night after working all day at their full-time jobs. Sitting for a moment to tap into your story seems like a waste of time, but I don’t think so. It’s meditative, the act of silencing your mind so you can think with your heart. That’s not easy, I get that, but it’s still critical to try.
I wish I could explain this more clearly, but I think that’s the point. Being creative, accessing your creative side, wrangling it, and forcing it onto the page is the hard part. It’s the part professionals do their best to explain however I feel they always fall short, and, again, I think that’s the point. If it was easy to explain everyone would be a pro writer.
Thanks for reading,