I think I’m going to make a bit of an edit for my schedule. Rather than a guest article and an interview every single week, which takes up more time than I expected out of an already-paced schedule, I will have one feature a week. This will take less time, plus I’m concerned about my blog ending up nothing but interviews and such. I wouldn’t want to post my open things on those days and compete. So one feature a week, and on Wednesdays.
Today I bring you a piece by the lovely and talented Eli Ashpence. Eli’s blog is full of great information I encourage you to read! Her novel, Genocide to Genesis, is on my to-read-ASAP list, and can be bought (for a measly 99 cents – raise that price!) here. Her advice is also a fantastic method used by many thespians. It works very well.
Enjoys Eli’s Advice to Noobs! You may feel better about the days you feel unproductive.
I thought about writing this post for newbies, but the truth is that very few newbies will see this. Writers who will find this post are noobs–they’ve written something and have begun networking, querying, etc–and such people are full of confidence. Sometimes, you could even say they’re full of too much confidence and could use a swift kick in their quasars…or whatever word you want to use to avoid alienating male readers.
There are plenty of posts about the technical aspects of writing. There’s even more about the do’s and don’ts of querying. I’m not going to detail all the basics that writers should remember. Nor am I going to write a dissertation on voice or write an analytical essay on successful novels. The only advice that I could possibly share to my fellow noobs is “emotion”.
It’s such a simple word, but it’s what we sometimes forget to use when the fear of failure or the disappointment of rejection forces us into retreat. It’s something that drives us, yet also hinders us. Emotion is the one thing that writers underestimate when we’re busy trying to correct technical flaws, even though it’s one of the few things that can make readers forget to look for flaws.
It wasn’t until recently that I came to understand the amount of power held by emotion. I was sitting in front of my computer, utterly dejected at the stilted quality of my writing. It was some drivel about a boy hated by… blah blah blah. The flaws were glaringly obvious and I couldn’t bring myself to care… even though I’d written it.
I thought back to all the best scenes I’d crafted in the past, somewhat self-destructing at that moment, and I was stopped when I noticed one common factor. In all my favorite pieces of writing, I had poured my own emotions into the story. Not in anyway an average reader could understand, of course, but it almost seemed like I’d written a journal of my childhood in secret code. I’d beaten my character into submission when I felt beaten down. The characters flew into a bloody rage when I felt insulted. The characters felt unwanted to the point of despair when I felt lonely and misunderstood.
In many ways, the story was a purging. I took every harsh memory I had and allowed my readers to feel my pain. In some instances, I wrote a twisted version of actual events so that I could finally ‘speak up’ about things I’d buried. Through writing, I came to understand the people that hurt me and accept that all people have flaws.
And that brings me back to my moment of apiphany. It was emotion that I was lacking in my current WIPs. So, I went back to the starting line. I thought to myself, “My character was misunderstood. How did I feel when people misunderstood me? Why was I misunderstood? Why did people act toward me in such a way?” Furthermore, I sat back and actually visualized the event I was using as inspiration. After that, the character poured out. The story I had struggled with, and the writer’s block that had slowed me down, vanished like it never existed.
Remember this when you get another rejection. Remember this when a critique partner tries to rip you a new one. Remember this when your family rolls their eyes at ‘the writer in the family’. Take the emotion and feed off it. After all, no one except you can confirm that your worst enemy is that douchebag in chapter four.