Monday, June 7, 2010

Monday Motivation

"You do what's in your gut - if you've been doing it long enough, what's in your gut will be appropriate." ~ Anderson Cooper

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I've been doing this writing thing for awhile now. With each book I write, I think, wow, I've learned so much, come so far, and yet, I still have SO much more to learn too!

Last night, after a long writing session where I hammered out 4,000 words over the course of 4-5 hours, and ultimately finished the lean first draft on my latest WIP (yay!), I realized one thing that I think is important.

I've learned to trust my gut. If I'm excited about a story and I feel good about it, it MEANS something. It means I'll be able to finish it. It means that most likely, other people will like it as well. If I don't feel good about a story, if I dread sitting down to write, that's not a good sign. That's not to say that there aren't times writing is difficult. There are MANY times writing is difficult. But when you are excited by the whole, it makes you want to dig in and do the work necessary to get to the end.

I don't paint, although I wish I had that kind of artistic ability, but I wonder if as an artist puts the brush to the canvas, if he isn't going a lot of times by instinct. Yes, it's about skill and what the artist has learned over the years, but I'm guessing, in the end, a lot of it comes down to gut instinct. To do what FEELS right.

I think it's the same with writing. We take what we've learned, what we know, and apply that, but the best books are the ones where we turn inside and listen there too. 

We use instincts throughout the creation of a book in a number of ways. When we get feedback from other writers, for example, we usually will take the comments that feel right and we leave the rest. Again, it's listening and trusting ourselves to know the story we want to write and trusting ourselves to know what's best for it.

I think when we're new writers, this is hard. We don't know what to trust and what not to trust. We want to finish a book - that's the main goal. And along the way, it's all clunky and scary and we sort of ignore any feelings we have about it because, well, what do we know, we've never done this before, or only done it a couple of times, or whatever.

So last night, it sort of felt like this monumental thing because I think I've finally learned to trust my judgement. To know when to move forward, and to know when to pull back based on what I'm feeling about the story I'm writing. And perhaps most of all, to know that if I love a story, most likely, other people will too.

What about you? How do instincts come to in to play with your writing?


  1. Great post Lisa! And yay for finishing the rough draft--I can't believe how quick you are! *is jealous* And you're right--it is about trusting yourself, which is hard for me, because I second guess everything. My first round of agented revisions were so stressful because of that, because some of the solutions I came up with were different than the ones she suggested, and I was so scared to work outside of her comments. But I finally found that I had to go with my instincts, and it was the right decision. Hopefully the more I do this the easier it'll get to trust myself.

    Happy Monday!

  2. I know how good that feels to finish a draft! I'm always better off when I trust my instincts, but that's sometimes hard to remember...

  3. Congrats on finishing your wip! I like to trust my fingers and let them do the typing. The characters will say and do what they want, which is when it's the most fun. My biggest challenge is turning my internal editor off and remembering that the first draft is just getting the story out - it DOESN'T have to be perfect. ;)

  4. Great post Lisa. Trusting my judgement as a new writer is something I'm still struggling with. I tend to have a gut feeling but then worry that others know more than me. I second guess stuff too much. lol.
    I'm going to take you advice and trust the gut. :)

  5. Shannon - I think trusting ourselves IS hard. It takes time to learn, and even then, there are days when I don't trust myself at all. But I do feel more confident now than I used to.

    Sherrie - yes, it feels GOOD! I'm happy about it! :)

    Susan - you are SO right, it's hard to turn that internal editor off, I know!

    Lindsay - as time goes by, you'll get better at trusting your gut. I think it really is something that takes time.