Being an artist is tough. It doesn’t have to be, though. We walk to a different beat and we love it.
Sometimes, that beat gets a little out of sync with our goals and we have to knock it back in rhythm. As authors and artists, we have a tendency to get inside our own heads and spin on ideas until we drive ourselves completely batty OR burn out on an idea before it gets a fair chance.
Sound familiar? Yeah—
That sums up the #authorlife pretty well.
It took a lot of years and a couple of mentors—with the patience of Job—to teach me how to get past the self-sabotage.
As authors, ideas are our bread and butter. But it’s not about how many ideas we have, it’s about making ideas happen.
Authors need those influxes of ideas to spark creativity and draft our next story BUT we don’t need ideas to be counterproductive and disrupt the creative process.
How do you know if an idea is counterproductive? This might sound like an easy question because it is, but it seems to stumble every writer at one point or another.
Counterproductive ideas creep in as doubts, or more subtly as “brainstorming questions.”
Now, there’s nothing wrong with brainstorming. It’s an essential part of the process, but if you find yourself asking the same questions over and over and ov— There might be a problem. Do any of these sound familiar?
- Is my story cliche?
- Is that a plot hole?
- Are my characters relatable? Are they too relatable that they aren’t original?
- Why is my antagonist relatable? He should be evil, right? Why is evil relatable?
- How many words should each chapter be?
- How many chapters should there be?
- *gasp* Is that an adverb outside of dialogue?
- I asked every single one of these questions as a new writer and I see them asked by almost every new writer that joins our Facebook Writer Support Groups. (If you’re not an Askewian, what are you waiting for? Www.facebook.com/groups/rhetoricaskew)
These questions are great to ask yourself in the early stages of story development and outlining. What these questions are not good for is productivity. Once you’ve asked yourself these questions in the outlining stage, don’t revisit them until after you’ve written “the end” and have reports back from your three trusted beta readers. Why did I say three? (There’s a specific reason which is a post for another day.)
When you’re writing, just write. Get out of your head, let the characters take the wheel (well, the keyboard) and don’t disrupt the creative flow unless you want a disgruntled muse on your hands. Who has time for that?
Rhetoric Askew exists to support authors and artists in their quest to create worlds and inspire readers. Come join the Askew Challenge workshop to finish your novel in 90 days.