Sunday, October 12, 2014

So what?

So I finished the first draft of Book 2 on Friday. I'm still a little stupefied about it. But as I try to get over my stupor, I've begun crafting a revision plan for books 1 and 2--which I'm revising more or less at the same time because I'm insane (and care very much about continuity).

Part of that plan is stripping away some of the fear that causes me to hold back sometimes in my writing. In the second drafts of both these books, I'm going to go there--oh, yes, I am. Part of being able to go there is articulating my fears and then talking myself down from them. I call this the "So what?" talk, and I'm including it here to help any other writers who are in my situation--full of potential, but fearful of judgment.

Think about each fear you feel when you start writing something that almost seems too truthful, too authentic. Remind yourself that authenticity is essential for impactful writing, and counter that fear with "So what?" and a reason why it doesn't really matter as much as you think it does. Here are some of the "So what?" bits I go through almost on a daily basis:

They’ll think I’m writing about them.
So what? You write fiction. By definition, it’s made-up, not biographical. Sure, the people in your life may at times inspire a character’s behavior or traits, but they are not that character. And if they really think they’re that character, then that says more about them than you.

(On the off chance that your character was very much inspired by someone in your life, just remember that if they don’t like it, then perhaps they should have behaved better. Their problem, not yours.)

They’ll be uncomfortable with topics/details I’m writing about.
So what? Then they can stop reading it at any time. Make sure they know they’re not obligated to read or finish anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.

Remember, this story is an extension of you. It’s your brainchild—and it has to be authentic. Stay true to what you know you need to write about. If you don’t, it’ll show—and it’ll suck. So no matter how icky it is, take it and run with it—you and your story will be better for it.

They’ll think I’m weird.
So what? Writers are weird. You’re a writer. Weirdness comes with the territory—and you’re in very good company.

They’ll think differently of me.
So what? Again, that’s a them thing, not a you thing. You can’t control what they think. You can only control what you write—not how they react to it.

They’ll think I’m that character.
So what? There’s probably a piece of you in every character you write. Some pieces may be bigger than others, but you write fiction, not autobiography.

They’ll disown me, won’t love me anymore, etc.
This is less of a “So what?” (because it would actually matter if that happened!) and more of a “Hey, writer, you’re letting that great imagination get the best of you. That’s highly unlikely to happen, and *wink* even unlikelier if anyone thinks you’ll be the recipient of hefty royalty checks in the future.

If the "So what?" talks have helped you too, let me know in the comments below!

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