Finding the way

I don’t write that often about how I write because for some time I’ve had a superstitious fear that if I attempt to analyze what I do I’ll somehow destroy it. It’s not broke, so I don’t try to fix it.

But I’ve been thinking about this following conversations with other writers with whom I agreed that venturing into the unknown is part of the process. To write well, and above all, to write consistently and regularly (not to mention adverbly) requires a letting go, a surrender to something that just feels weird. So a bear enters the story (as it did in A Most Lamentable Comedy, on sale here with free shipping–was that good for you too?); a quirky character arrives and you don’t know quite what they’re doing but you feel they have to stay so you leave the scene in, just in case, and later they prove to be a major player in resolving the plot; and so on.

It’s hard and frightening to let the process, the unknown, take over which I think is why so many of us dither around with deadlines looming. The procrastination factor means that eventually you have to dive in and let the angels or demons of the creative process take over. And there’s always the fear that, yeah, I love this character, but what if they never do anything significant to forward the plot? Or what if my editor wants me to take him or her out?

The irony of course is that once you’ve got beyond the fear and doubt and procrastination, it’s great. It feels wonderful once you’re in the Zone and the story starts writing itself. And there are also the practical considerations like making the daily wordcount and meeting deadlines. So why all the avoidance?

I think fear is a necessary part of the process. We don’t know exactly how the creative works (even if it can be explained in terms of hormones or electrical impulses) and we should treat it with respect. At the same time we have to learn to trust our instincts and accept that we can make the story work, fill in the (in my case, gaping) plot holes and find solutions.

I suspect it’s pretty much the same for other creative endeavors and also for athletes. What do you think?

Over at agent Lucienne Diver’s blog today talking about bad girl heroines, HEAs, and offering a copy of A Most Lamentable Comedy as a prize!

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