Monday, January 16, 2017

Stepping Up Your Game

Many writers have an unfinished manuscript tucked away; a neatly bound stack of papers relegated to the back drawer of an old cupboard...

The unfinished manuscript may be one of your earlier attempts at writing; the story you started as a newbie writer. During the writing journey, you became stuck, unable to move the story any further. Maybe you felt that you lacked certain skills to continue with the story. Maybe the story didn’t fit into an easily defined category. You encountered a ‘brick wall’. What stopped you from moving beyond this blockage?

In essence, it’s fear. It’s the fear that, as a writer, you didn’t know how to put into words, that image in your mind’s eye. You knew exactly what you wanted to say but didn’t know how to go about getting it into words. You doubted your ability to write the new material in a way that worked for your story. Think of it in the following way: you were required to up your game; to move to a higher level. But you were unsure how to go about doing that. At that particular time, you doubted your abilities.

When you hit a brick wall in your writing, you have to work through it. Take the plunge, whether you’re ready or not! No matter how scary it is, reach out and just do it. You may never be fully ready but you have to embrace the discomfort and move to the next level. That’s how we grow as writers.

Have you ever wondered about writers who work on a story for many, many years? As the writer reaches the next level, the story evolves and changes. The writer also evolves and changes. The writer isn’t the same person who composed the first draft years before. As the writer grows, he becomes more skilled, making it easier to meet each new challenge, push a bit further and move to the next level.

Keep stepping up your game. Read dozens of books on the craft.  Keep slaving away those hours upon hours in front of a computer. Be brave and allow yourself to make mistakes. Quit playing it safe. Keep an open mind. Engage in activities that fuel your imagination. Take some risks in your storytelling. Break through the fear. Write what you’re afraid to write. It might work, it might not. You never know until you try.

You will reach yet another level, where a new challenge awaits. A brand new wall. It will be time to face yet another uncomfortable growth period. Once you find a way to get over this, the cycle repeats...

It’s a new year. Any plans to step up your game?

21 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Working on a project for years does mean there will be many changes and rewrites as the author evolves and grows.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Yes, I worked on my first manuscript for many years. I didn't know anything about writing and it took years of working on this manuscript and revising it to sort of learn the rules. I am a much better writer even though I ultimately put that project in a drawer.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I've been working on a manuscript off and on for a few years now, but this is the year! I've got a much better, more complete draft than I've had in the past (thanks to NaNo 2016!) so I have more to work with, and I'd like to think my skills have gotten better as well. Finger crossed!

Pat Hatt said...

Oh yeah, I know waaaay more now than when I started. One sure does grow the more they learn and the words flow.

Sandee said...

Life is the very same. Get out of your comfort zone and spread your wings. Nothing is accomplished if you play it safe all the time.

Have a fabulous day. ☺

Juneta Key said...

Yup, agreed. Life derails me too, but I suspect the root of that may be that same fear.
Great post.
Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Michelle - the more we write - the more we are likely to find our voice - then we need to progress on and at least publish something, our work and books will evolve - but we'll have got ourselves on the ladder ... and we can carry on improving ... cheers Hilary

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I'm amazed at people who work on their first book for ten years or more. Then I remember I had rewritten my first book at least six times over the course of a few years until I got my very first contract.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I've written since I was a teen and wow, can I see the changes and growth over the years.

cleemckenzie said...

Yep. One wall after another. When I look back, those earlier walls seem low while the ones that loom ahead have shot up to heaven. I'm hoping I can hurdle these new ones and that they, too, will shrink in size when I look back. Great post, Michelle. Thanks.

Patricia Lynne said...

I've definitely stepped up my game as I learned more about writing. =)

The Cynical Sailor said...

I definitely need to step up my game this year. I'd say the past year or so has been about getting things down on paper, but I cringe when I read what I've written and how amateurish it sounds. I definitely need to learn a lot more about the craft of writing. Cheers - Ellen

Jen Chandler said...

Beautiful, wonderful, and timely post! "Write what you are afraid to write." I have been saying this for years. It's time I started taking this advice for myself.

Have a wonderful week!
Jen

G. B. Miller said...

Lately I've been going back to those truly terrible early stories to see if any are rescue-able. One, that I originally wrote some five years ago and originally shook the dust off in early 2015, I started working on in earnest last year and just finished the 1st draft this month.

So what I've been always afraid to write is basically re-writing those truly terrible early stories into something viable, simply due to the incredible amount of time needed to execute it.

Father Nature's Corner

Christine Rains said...

Awesome post! I totally agree that writers must keep growing and evolving. I hope to push up my speed this year and move back to writing bigger novels.

diedre Knight said...

Such an inspirational post! It's so true about the fear, it can mean the difference between taking your book to success or stashing it in a drawer for 'years and years'. I'd like to exchange the fear for stepping up and being counted ;-)

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Wow--did you hit the nail on the head. This is me. With each book I keep hoping I can get it finished and off before the year is up. Nope! Thanks, Michelle.

Toinette Thomas said...

I'm always trying to step up my game, but for me that has always meant improving my writing. I've held back projects intentionally because I knew they weren't ready. Feedback from betas has always proved me right. But as I improve, I want to release more than one project a year.

Fundy Blue said...

An excellent post, Michelle! I have several manuscripts filed away. Now that I'm retired I'm tackling one of them. I've floundered around, but my confidence in my ability to actually finish the book is growing. I've learned so much during the process. One thing that has really helped me move forward is learning to blog. That has taught me tons about writing. Plus it has allowed me to deal with some painful memories and gain some objectivity and balance. I've also been able to approach things a small chunk at a time as I find my voice and improve my skills in writing. When I have to write what I'm afraid of writing, I'll be able to do it because now I have the courage to try. Have a good one!

authorcgcoppola.com said...

Great post. Enjoyed it thoroughly!

Lux G. said...

When you hit a brick wall in your writing, you have to work through it. <- so honest and true! I can relate to that. Keep on keeping on.