Thursday, January 15, 2015

Overwhelm vs. Underwhelm

I have been challenged by some feisty, troublemaking writer friends to resurrect my blog, and I couldn't think of a better topic to start the new year off with than the challenge of taking on too much. So, a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…wait a second, that sounds familiar…I realized that what worked for me as a writer was far different than what I was being told SHOULD work for me as a writer. Let me explain. All the classes and books and conferences I had taken over the years, since I began seriously pursuing writing as a teenager, suggested very strongly that I become disciplined and write a certain amount of words each and every day…and that I work on one project at a time through to completion, to avoid brain and creativity burn-out. This was hammered into my head over and over again. WORD COUNT. PAGE GOALS. DISCIPLINE. ONE AT A TIME.


It quickly became evident that this was not for me. Since childhood, when I began writing stories, I knew that the whole "one thing at a time" just wasn't going to cut it. At least not with me. My brain was filled with ideas and stories and characters and subjects I wanted to learn and write about. Nor was the idea that I should write a set amount of words each day. I just couldn't do it and make it feel natural. I felt embarrassed and awkward talking to other writers, especially writing teachers, who pushed the whole "5 pages a day" on me…because for me, it felt unnatural for my own tendencies. It took me a couple of decades to feel comfortable in my own writing skin, despite their admonitions.

What works for me is writing at least two things at once, preferably not the same genre or age group, or even format. Maybe a novel and a script. Or a non-fiction book and a novel. A middle grade story and an adult sci fi tale. You get the picture. Sometimes I have three things going at once. I love it!!! It gets my blood boiling and my passions raging and it stokes the creative fires.

What works for me is having tons of deadlines hanging over my head because I perform so much better under pressure. What works for me is writing in fits and starts, doing a ton of writing in my head before I ever put a word down on paper, and going days without writing anything, only to bang out half a book the following week. IT WORKS FOR ME. I SHALL NO LONGER QUESTION IT!

I am widely published, with tons of writing credits under my belt in non-fiction, screenwriting, short stories, essays, reviews, gift books, magazine articles and now fiction. I THINK IT WORKS FOR ME JUST FINE. So the next time someone chastises me for being overwhelmed, I will simply tell them it works for me. I like overwhelm.

It's the underwhelm that gets me into trouble.

Find your patterns, your rhythms, your methods and your modes and stick to them. The most important thing is getting the stuff on paper, no matter how you do it.

Hey, I blogged!!!!!

1 comment:

  1. I tried to post a comment earlier today, but Blogger ate it. I'm sure the comment was brilliant and witty, but of course, a nanosecond after posting... or what I presumed was posting, I couldn't remember a word of it.

    Basically, I think it said YES!!!!! You have to go with what works. If it is working, keep on keeping on. But it is nice to know some other methods for those times when it isn't working. Then is the time to try a little of this, or maybe give that other thing a try.

    All of the "musts" are suggestions that someone took too literally. Work with your flow. I can't wait to read your next work. :D