Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sticking to my gut

Well, with the holidays approaching 'sticking to my gut' could mean a number of things. I'm sure a lot will be sticking to my gut, along with my hips, from now until the new year, but I'm talking about another meaning. Lately, I've been sort of lost and scared. My creativity has gone through spurts. It will flow one minute, and be totally dry the next. This is uncommon for me, but I guess it can happen. I think that with all that goes on in our daily lives, our mind gets distracted, and in my case, creativity takes a back seat. 

I did get to do some revising yesterday, and I thought I was going to cut a whole bunch of stuff, when I realized, I wanted it that way. It's hard especially being a newcomer to really, truly stick to your vision. You want to learn, grow, be accepted, and ultimately win the hearts of agents and publishers, along with readers. This can distract you from your original vision. Things may need to change sentence structure, those gosh darn adjectives, dreaded -ing words, wacky 'was' and so on, but the story-- how do we stay true? 

I have to admit my original vision did need tweaking/tightening, but no matter how much I change it, certain things stay the same. They have to, otherwise it's not my work. In a world full of opportunities for advice and suggestion, it's hard not to get caught up in a tizzy. I know when I started, I craved to know how my story was-- Does it have a chance, how could it improve, and so on.  I got great advice, but also got overwhelmed and confused. I never went through one full revision because I kept changing things to the advice I was given. Now don't get me wrong, advice is priceless, and for me it's my classroom, but too much can make you feel like you're drowning. Never moving forward. You watch others complete manuscripts in record time, land agents, and get published while you're still deciding where to go. How to change it to make it shine while your two year old keeps repeating the word mustang till you say mustang, can bring you down-- make you feel that you'll never be able to be 'in the game', wondering why you started this in the first place. 

I have felt this way, but I have moved on. Everyone's path is different, and things will come to us at different times when we least expect it. Keeping our eye on our prize can fuel the fire, making it hard not to give up. It's hard to 'stick to our gut', but just remember it's yours, it's a part of you that the world may get to see. If you give yourself a chance, you may be surprised. I have a long way to go, but as my one year blogoversary approaches, I realize how far I've come. I know what I want, and how I want my story to be. The awesome advice I get now, I use with a twist of my vision. I take it, and apply it to help my story, not change it. I try not to get caught up in the frenzy, and keep my own pace. It's been a struggle, but I'm getting there.

How do you handle advice?

How do you 'stick to your gut'?

Has your creativity ever taken a back seat?

 Have a great day!


  1. As we grow as writers, we learn what works and what doesn't work for our process. It's about strengthening our process and writing the stories we want to write in our way. It's okay to try new ways to approach our writing and to implement new ideas, but ultimately our writing process becomes organic and unique to ourselves and our personalities.

    One tip I stick to is to never farm out any pages of my first draft until I've finished it. It's completely my story that way. I'll brainstorm, plot, plan, talk about it but when I sit down to write the first draft, I plow through it till I'm done. Only after I finish birthing my baby and I've had a chance to nurture it with some revision love will I start to let other writer momma's cradle it and give me suggestions about how to "raise" it.

    Hang in. And yes. My creativity has taken a huge back seat. All my characters walked out of my brain for a good 3 or 4 days when I considered a major change (which I did implement). Not just the current WIP, but all prior and future characters were gone. For the first time in years I had nothing in my head but panic.

    Hang in!! Sometimes creativity just needs a daily injection of words, even crapola words, to kick start again.


  2. This is such a true post, Christine. It's so hard for writers to stick with their vision when others don't get it. I love advice, but sometimes it messes things up rather than helps. That's when I need to consider the source and toss the advice if it damages my confidence or story.

  3. *hugs* I'm dealing with the same thing. I thought I had moved on with my wip last year when I first started querying it (after it had been through the rounds with my crit group). It wasn't ready. It's been changed so many times since then that it's not quite how I first envisioned it. Back then, it was a YA contemporary novel, now it's YA romantic suspense. And I'm still tweaking the first chapter. It's hard because I'm so ready to move on and focus on my new wip, but I also want to give the other book as big a chance as it can get. Of course, if I had ignored all the advice along the way, my book wouldn't have had a chance in the world to go anywhere. And maybe it still won't in the end. But at least I learned a lot during this past year. :D

  4. ugh, i've been having the stop and start moments with my creativity lately as well. It's not fun

  5. Since I was relatively new to all of this, I handled the advice and suggestions of my test readers well. Hesitated at first, but then realized they were right.

  6. First--HOW WAS I NOT FOLLOWING YOU??? I totally thought I was.

    And I know what you mean about the struggle to stick to your instincts. It only gets harder once you have an agent's opinion to consider too. So I try to figure out what the essence of my story is. What makes it MINE. And hold to that. I also do like what I talked about in my post today. I keep a sekrit project that really is ONLY mine. Then, when I'm frustrated because I'm changing something that I don't necessarily want to change--even though I know it makes my book better--I can switch to my secret project and do whatever. I. want. It's just mine mine all mine. Very therapeutic.

    Good luck with the writing! I'm sure you'll find the right balance.

  7. This is one of the things that you learn as a writer that take you from "beginning" to "seasoned." It's so hard to ignore advice, but you have to follow your gut as a creative person.

    I have put my creativity in the backseat and it was awful. I did it, didn't feel good about it, and ended up going with my gut in the end. I should've done that in the beginning, but you know. One of those writer lessons.

  8. Ugh. I hate those moments of insecurity and feeling overwhelmed. The writing process can be so rewarding and so frustrating, all at the same time. You're right that we need to stick to our guts and find our own way. Good luck!

  9. It's great to get advice, but important not to assume it's always right. It's still my story. I seriously consider each piece of advice I'm given. I apply what I agree with and don't worry about what I don't agree with (unless I hear it from more than one source, then I have to give it a good, serious look).

  10. I've yet to get any advice... I'm anxious and worried about it already (sending out my first look to a few readers in December)

  11. I totally get what you're saying. When it comes to advice you need to be able to NOT take it sometimes. Separate the wheat from the chaff. It doesn't mean that some advice you've gotten is bad, but maybe it just doesn't mesh with your vision. Learning to take some and not all will be key to your sanity. Glad you've gotten to the point where you get that. Sometimes it's hard to get there.