Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Writer Who Knew Too Much

I've got a passion for story craft. For me, the only thing that can compare to the thrill of writing fiction is learning about writing fiction. I've got a whole shelf full of books on writing. When I go to a conference or workshop I'm looking for the next nugget of wisdom, the next clue to my quest of creating the ultimate reading experience. In the past few years I've filled more notebooks with notes on craft books and symposium lectures than I have on my own novels' world building, character development, and plot outlines.

Uh oh.

The last time I took a creative writing class my professor said I was doing a fantastic job of avoiding using passive voice - at the expense of varying my sentence structure. I needed to relax and just write.

When I face the blank page, my head churns with all the things I need to keep in mind. Tension. Pacing. Character. Beats. Voice. I type one sentence and none of that is happening. Maybe I should just go read "Character and Viewpoint" again.

No! I've been doing too much learning about writing and not enough writing itself, so much so that I've created very high expectations for myself but I haven't been building the skills to meet them.

Any suggestions?

I have a few for myself.
  1. Spend more time writing. Always a good thing.
  2. If you have to learn something related to writing, try studying up on some of the other skills you're going to need as an author, like marketing and public speaking.
  3. Let the first draft be horrible. Just get the words on the page, worry about everything else later.
Wish me luck!


  1. For me, too much learning results in crippling when applied! I feel I need to live up to everything and it stunts my style. Bad. It's been a long road where I finally have learned that it's okay to pick what feels best! After all, if every one of us applied exactly ever minute detail we learned, every book would sound the same!


  2. I spend lots of time learning about the craft of writing because I'm much better at doing that then the writing itself. Writing for me is a constant battle between trying to get the story down on the page and following all the rules. I'm hoping it all comes together eventually.

  3. Thanks for your comment, Ken. I'm sure it will come together eventually if you keep at it! What I've finally had to do is force myself to draft a little every day. I set a timer for fifteen minutes and try to write one short story. It's working great, and I'm learning a lot of stuff I'd never learn unless I was actually getting words down on paper.
    Number one most important thing - most readers don't know the rules. They just know if they like it.


What be on yer mind?