We love Wednesday.
It’s hump day, it’s two days until Saturday, the weekend is almost here, and well, who are we kidding? We’re writer’s, we don’t take weekend breaks. There’s no such thing as a holiday because even if your pen is down or your fingers are off of the keys, your mind is still taking notes and developing plots, characters and settings.
I had a really interesting chat with one of our author’s yesterday, Peter Monn (follow him on Twitter @petermonn).
There is something that you have to know about Peter before we continue, he has one of the most unique voices you will meet and he carries an amazing personal conviction with his beliefs. Like Christy Pastore, Peter Monn is a brand. He has worked his name through YouTube Channels, social media, and in person social circles.
Peter is going to bring us quite a few stories that I can not wait to share with you. We don’t want to give away too much yet, but his pieces are going to deal with real life challenges that currently impact many of our lives. These challenges are personal for some, moral for others, but regardless of stance or outlook on the topics he will bring, you will connect with his pieces. We truly believe that his voice and presentation of his stories can and will touch people outside of the current circles that associate with the issues he will deal with. (I know, so ambiguous and for that, we’re sorry…but we’re not).
This is why writing and publishing is still so extremely important in the ever changing digital age. The power of the pen should not be discounted because it is now accompanied by a “click click click” of keys instead of a “swoosh swoosh swoosh” of ink.
Needless to say, I was a LITTLE shocked when Peter told me he has been going through writer’s block and extreme self doubt this week. He told me that he just finished an amazing book and went right into another that he couldn’t put down and when he returned to his piece, he felt like he didn’t match up. Coupled by a fangirl moment where he almost ran directly into John Green, current YA Author extraordinaire, in a parking lot of the lovely little town of Indianapolis that they both share, Mr. Monn was left feeling slightly blue.
My jaw hit the floor. I reread his little chat window and what this strong, amazing person with the potential to alter society with his voice is going through is something everyone might experience as a writer.
I pulled inspiration from my cheesy little Pinterest quote board for moments like this and I told Peter, “Self doubt is the worst of all plagues. You can’t compare your middle to someone else’s end. First of all, you don’t know how many editors ran their inky little fingers across those pages to give you what you’re reading now.”
Think about it, how many of us have EVER written a first draft that magic? My first drafts are maybe one level above toilet paper and that is because I’m just starting to lay my idea down and flesh out the story. Then, I go back over it to flesh it out and further develop the story. Then, I go back again and move things around or delete things. THEN, I go for grammar.
And, then, I send it to our editing team where they chop my little beauty in tiny little pieces decorated with red marks and change trackers or post-it notes before handing it back with a smile.
I rework pieces, edit, either accept suggestions or tell them that I will refuse to budge and it has to be this way for this part, fight with them a little, and then resubmit. The piece might come back with slightly less red marks, but still not quite right. And, so, back to the writing cave we go.
I can tell when I’m working through one of our author’s pieces and they are completely over thinking a passage instead of using their own voice. Things get choppy, the flow moves from a calm stream to white water rapids and in that instance, the author is lost.
I can read self-doubt in between words and I can pick up on where the writer just let it flow and where they sat and deleted, rewrote, deleted, rewrote, and finally gave in to acceptance of a passage.
I gave Peter one last word of advice, “If you’re really wanting to write, stop reading for a little bit. What happens is you get wrapped into that story and then you unknowingly mimic that voice. What you’re doubting isn’t your voice, you’re doubting the words that aren’t your voice and are instead inspired by something else on that page.”
Now before you gasp in bloody horror, I am in NO WAY saying DO NOT READ. No, no, no. Sometimes we need that escape and to lose ourselves in those creamy pages or backlit handheld screens.
What I’m saying is the moment you start to compare your writing to something you’re reading or have just finished, stop everything for one whole day. Go enjoy the world, get a massage, buy some new shoes, drink a few martinis, and come back with a fresh mind.
Re-read what you wrote. Does it really sound like you? Is it organic to the story? Did your story develop on its own and did the characters take you where they wanted to go or did you force them into something inspired by what you just read?
Maybe even do what I do, delete that whole section, paste it into a separate Word Document with notes, and give it another go at creation before comparing the two sections.
75% of the time, I go with the second draft.
100% of the time, my inner voice leads me down the right path.
So as we’re all writing this week, keep these things in mind. You all have a story for some reason. Whatever you are working on has been created in your mind because SOMEONE out there wants to read it. Someone out there NEEDS to read it. This is YOUR story, it’s not THEIR story.
Just let it be.
The Pen Name Publishing Team