Monday, October 4, 2010

Motivational Monday - following the story

"...gut-level reactions--following the story where the story wants to go instead of where you intellectually think it ought to go in order to get where you think you need to be--that's where the cool stuff is! If you shut that out, you can miss great opportunities in your story." - Melissa Wyatt, author of FUNNY HOW THINGS CHANGE

I really loved Melissa's post yesterday where she talked about going with your gut when you're writing. She talked about writing one scene where she didn't allow herself to do that, and the writing felt like she was simply "moving dolls around in a doll house." Isn't that *exactly* what it's like when we're struggling to make things happen? Sometimes, we have to do it and come back later and fix it, because there's no other solution. But it's SO much better if we can let ourselves move into that space where we are more inside the story than outside of it - living inside the doll house with the dolls, instead of trying to control them from the outside.

When I was writing my upcoming YA novel, THE DAY BEFORE, there was this huge moment that happened toward the end that I hadn't seen coming. It had been a long writing day. A GOOD writing day. One of those glorious, words-are-flowing and things-are-happening kinds of days that you never want to end. And then, from literally out of nowhere, comes one of those magical moments that we live and write for.

I'm typing along and lo-and-behold, this "thing" that up 'til now had just been a fun little thing between the characters became this BIG thing. My main character had this ah-ha moment and it was so real and honest because it was an ah-ha moment for me too!! I couldn't have planned it better if I'd tried. It was a shiver-invoking moment, and one where I literally stopped and whispered, "thank you."

When my editor sent me the marked-up manuscript, at that special spot, she wrote, "Yes! YES! Love how you take us through all this to get to this point. Yes!"

I almost felt like a fraud. Um, wait, I didn't do it! Did I?

Last Friday, Cheryl Renee Herbsman wrote a post in which she shared five reasons why she writes. Number 5 is my favorite. She wrote, "Because the little magical connections that happen all on their own remind me that I am not alone."

So true.

It is hard to not think too hard as we write. To not worry about where we're going, how we're going to get there, if the path we're taking is the right one or not. With every book, every single book, I have these worries. I start out with a general sense of where I'm going, but most of it, I'm on a journey of exploration. And at first I fight it! Everything inside of me says, this is wrong, you don't know what you're doing, this isn't going to be any good, you need to spend more time thinking about this book, blah blah blah.

AND, with each book, there comes a a day, a time, a moment where I get really tired of the doubt and uncertainty and my constant questioning of everything, and I basically say - "Okay. I'm surrendering now. I'm ready to give up trying to know and understand it all right now, and just let it happen."

That's when I set the doll down, look around, and step INSIDE the doll house. OMG, it's so much more FUN in there, you guys!!

Last week, I struggled along on my WIP, trying to move the dolls around. This week, I think I'm ready to set them down and see what happens. What about you? Want to join me!?


  1. Can I just say I love you :-) Every post you write just leaves me feeling inspired and ready to write for the day. Thank you!

  2. Great advice, Lisa! It's so easy to overthink!

  3. Oh, I totally agree! I just said the other day to my crit partner that I felt like I was just moving my characters from point "a" to point "b".

    But then I have these moments where I'm learning right along with them, and I'm cranking that chapter out without even really thinking, because the characters are basically doing it for me.
    It's a wonderful feeling! Thanks for that great post!

  4. Love this post and the doll house analogy! Thanks, Lisa!