Monday, January 24, 2011

Unleash Your Beast

I'll bet most or all of you have heard that tired old advice more than you'd like. The one that goes: Just write! Don't think! But unfortunately, that is often easier said than done. Even I have spouted those two sentences a time or two. And yet, even I struggle to swallow my own advice sometimes.
That's why I'm writing about this and something else. Something we all still fear at times.

Another saying that we as writers have heard is: Write what you know.

It's easier that way, no? If you are a nurse, or have experience in the nursing field, then perhaps your characters or storylines reflect a bit of that in your books. If you are one of those who crave the affections of another, then your characters might act the same way. It's always simpler to write what you know.

If you write romance, you stick to romance. If you write horror, you stick to horror.

Yes, you may add a few elements of other genres in your writing but only a bit here and there.

Someone asked me the other day...what happens if you get stuck in a rut? What happens if you always ONLY stick to what you know and never explore writing about anything else?

Mind you, this friend is not a writer, and was asking more out of curiousity than anything else, but it got me thinking.

How would we know if our skill extended beyond that of which we know if we never tried? How can we master the art of writing when we haven't explored everything the craft has to offer? So off I went on a writing experiment. Grabbing my handy pen and notebook, I began to write. No plot, no character ideas, no clue as to where or what I was going for. I simply picked a setting, got it in my head that this would NOT be about romance (which is my forte) and wrote.

Two hours later I had about twenty, handwritten pages of something resembling closely to paranormal horror. It was sloppy, wordy, overexagerated, and oh so many more bad things.

And yet, I was giddy with excitement at what I'd accomplished.

No it wasn't good. Not awesome. But it was DIFFERENT.

I took a chance at something that was way out of my league (or so I thought) and after jumping in, resurfaced feeling rejuvenated. I let go and let the words take me away.

Can you imagine what would have happened if I'd been writing romance? Phew!

When was the last time you wrote without thinking? Without worrying about what people will think when they read what you have on the page (or screen) in front of you?

Don't lie.

There is always that little voice in the back of our minds that keeps our minds from wandering too far. That keeps our words limited to what we just outlined. The one that says: "What will publishers think? Will they buy that? Will they ask to read more? Too many mistakes! Don't use that word!"

Do you remember the first time you ever picked up a pen/pencil? The first stroke of the keyboard when you wrote the beginning sentence of your very first story?

You weren't worrying about the query letter that you would send out. Or the comments you would get from readers, the critique. Hell, you weren't even worried about what was going to happen next. All you knew is that there was a story brewing in your mind that you absolutely had to get down!

It was a wonderful feeling, wasn't it?

Sometimes we get so caught up in our novels, our writing, and what people will think about it that we lose the joy that comes from the pure act of writing.

So I challenge you not one, but two things.

Forget the story you are writing, just for a moment. As important as it is, as much as you need to write the next chapter...put it on hold for just one hour. Get out that old fashioned pen and pencil--because you will be so tempted to hit delete if you use a computer--and go somewhere you won't be distracted.

And write. Don't think about characters, names, places, storyline...just go with what comes.

They may not be full sentences and you might wind up calling one of your characters John Doe but do it.

The second challenge? Unleash the beast inside you. The one just itching to come out and wreak havoc on all that you think you know by taking you to a place you've never been in your writing career. Write in a different direction. If you tend to lean toward horror--write romance. Fantasy? Try urban fairy tale. Etc...

What's the worst that could happen?

You'll get the same giddyness you once felt?

Yeah...that would suck so much. Ha ha.

Until next time.

Happy Writing!


  1. Very well put. I like it! And this is definitely a topic that most writers, I think, worry about. Or have trouble with. So bravo :)

  2. Oh, THANK YOU Min!! :) been struggling with this advice, trying to shut up the internal editor...this'll do the trick I hope!

    Now I'm off to see if I can...write something. Even if it means ch. 25 will have to wait. I'll try that urban fairytale. Make it a fantasy world type fairytale story,( with no romance.)


  3. I'm glad this helped Maddie. Let me know how it goes with that writing challenge.

  4. I miss that joy from writing.

  5. Great blog! This was the perfect example of the rut most writers get stuck in. I know I am one of those who forget what a pleasure it was simmply to put words on the page in front of me. I will definitely be thinking about this next time I place pen to paper. Thanks!

  6. @Rue, well then start again :)

    @Andy, Thank you. I do that too sometimes. I worry too much about what ppl will think or whether publishers will want to read it...etc.
    Sometimes I just have to pause and think--who is this for again?

  7. I think sometimes it's easier for writers to really put their all into it without fear if nobody is reading. Which I know is not what writers want. LOL. We need fans and we need support. Sigh. It's funny how the thing we crave can also be the thing we despise sometimes.

  8. So true, Lucy. I know that sometimes I feel pressured to finish a chapter because I want ppl to know I'm writing away...only to find myself writing crap because I'm rushing. And one must never rush the muse.

  9. I don't ever want to lose the happiness I feel when i write. It's why I started in the first place. And to think that I's awful. I will definitely be trying the challenge.

  10. It is an awful feeling and sometimes it can create a near unbreakable writer's block. I've been there and I never want to go back.

  11. Advice I can really use! I loved this and am now encouraged to do just this--write without worry.

  12. Do it, you won't be sorry. I know it's something people hear from everyone and their mother but it is so true--write without reservations, write for yourself first. Cuz if you're not happy then what makes you think your readers will be?

  13. I have learned this the hard way. Don't write to please everyone, there is no way that will ever happen. I write to please myself and if ppl like what I write then more power to them. And me!

  14. I wrote without major plan during NaNo this year. I let go of my inhibititions and did something completely different from what I usually write. The story flowed effortlessly. I can honestly say that I'm in love with this book, and if I had been more conscious of trying to fit in a standard model, I'd never have attempted it.

    1. That's awesome Angie! Sometimes when we let go of our doubts, we wind up surprising ourselves :)



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