Writing isn't hard. It just feels that way.
When I finished graduate school, I thought I knew about writing. And then I had an idea for a novel and realized I had a lot to learn. I'd been writing creative nonfiction and memoir. Short pieces that happened to add up to a book.
But fiction? And a whole book?
I emailed a friend and asked for advice. Should I outline it all before I started? Or just write? Her response didn't help: either.
Since I had no idea how to create a workable outline, I started writing. For a little while, things went great. And then my enthusiasm gave way to overwhelm:
- There were so many unknowns. How was I supposed to keep going when I wasn't completely sure what happened next?
- So many ideas and tidbits were popping into my head, but I had no idea how to use them or where they fit in the book.
Eventually, I decided that I had NO IDEA what I was doing. I quit. (And, I might add, felt lousy about it).
I didn't realize that when it comes to writing, there is a middle ground between outlining and shooting from the hip.
I also made the #1 mistake a writer can make when it comes to actually writing: I assumed that I was clueless, and that someone else (or everyone else) knew better than I did.
Yet every time I sought answers, I found completely unhelpful advice (do whatever works) or a lot of rules (write a book plan first, or make a detailed outline of the plot, making sure that X happens by page Y, and A happens by page B).
I'm going to be honest. If I waited until I knew everything that happened in a story, I would never write.
Eventually, after a lot of trial and error, I found my own way to do it. An approach that helped me plan and stay on track, but also write before I had all the answers (in fact, write to find the answers). For the first time, I wrote a draft of a novel from start to finish.
Now I know that as a writer, the best thing you can do for yourself is ignore any "how to" that feels overwhelming, makes your chest feel tight or your head spin. Follow the advice that feels like freedom. Play in the space outside of the rules but stay attuned to common sense--your very own instincts about right and wrong.
Think about it. If you ignored the rules that didn't fit, and you followed the advice that felt like freedom, what would you do differently in your writing? Email me and let me know: WritingStrides@gmail.com
It's a liberating turning point as a writer, and it's the philosophy I'm bringing to my book planning retreat in April. I'll share my approach to writing so you, too, can play in the freeing space between too many rules and just enough guidelines to keep you moving.
Together, we'll get clear on what your story is about--what you know and what you don't (truth: you know enough to begin). We'll also create the focus and confidence you need to begin writing and discover what happens next. You'll have to tools you need to write the first draft of your book in three months.
It will be transform you as a writer and set you off on an adventure: writing a memoir, a novel, or a story inspired by your own life experience.
Will you take the leap and join me? It's not for everyone, I know. There will be no rules or unnecessary structures, only guidelines and starting points. But I think you'll be surprised how much that changes your writing for the better.
You will feel like an author.
Spaces are filling quickly, so please don't miss out. You'll get a copy of my original ebook, The Clear Focused Writer: Get Your Book Out of Your Head and Onto Paper. And if you're a WritingStrides subscriber, when you sign up you'll get a laser coaching session from me--30 minutes, on-on-one. You'll be amazed what you can uncover in a focused conversation.
Take a look, sign up, email me to talk about whether it's the right experience for you.
I look forward to hearing from you! Alissa
PS The three month timeframe might sound bold, but it's no joke. With this retreat as your foundation, you really can choose to write the first draft of your book in 90 days. And with the ebook (a $47 value) and the potential of a laser coaching session (a $75 value) there's no better way or time to sign up. This is an intimate, small retreat--once those spaces are gone, they're gone. So follow that inkling, that small voice whispering yes. You won't regret saying yes to your writing.