Today we have a guest post from USA Today best selling writer Dean Wesley Smith. I’ve added a comment at the end. Enjoy.
Dangers of Not Trusting The Creative Voice
Things Stop When You Lose Faith In The Creative Voice…
I watch this loss all the time and hear about it from hundreds of writers over every year. Not trusting your creative voice is deadly.
This came up a couple days ago when I talked about writing clean first draft work by cycling. And how that keeps the creative voice in control and eliminates the need for a critical-voice second or third draft. Got some great excuses. Fun to read.
I just sort of felt sad, actually, because that’s like knowing when a person will die. I can see, over forty years, exactly how long it will take some of these mistakes to kill a writer’s career and dreams. Brutal, sadly, but true.
Think of the creative voice as a brilliant writer with the social skills and attention span of a two-year-old. The creative voice knows a billion times more than your critical voice about writing fiction because it has been absorbing story since you were born.
But the rules, the myths, the fears, you have been taught hold the creative voice in check.
Think of the critical voice as a parent. Come on, you know how that sounds…
“Don’t do that, you can’t do that, stop there, this will be a waste of time…”
Sounds like a parent? Yup. And all negative.
The creative voice, on the other hand, wants to just entertain itself and tell a story. And it knows how to tell fantastic stories if you and your learned parental voice leave it alone.
Anything negative is critical voice.
Keep that in mind.
Outlining… Absolutely the quickest way to make sure the creative voice won’t even show up. Why should it bother? Your critical voice has already figured out what the book will be, so the creative voice just goes off and pouts, leaving you the hard work of writing from critical voice. And having no fun.
Figuring Out What Is Coming… The moment you bog down and think you need to know what happens next, you make your creative voice angry and it leaves. Why should it bother to stick around? Critical parent voice has taken over because of fear. This is why so many novels stop on page 100 or so. You didn’t trust your creative voice to just figure it out as it went along. Your job to help the creative voice? Just write the next sentence.
Writing Sloppy Drafts… This is totally deadly. You are telling your creative voice that its work is flawed and needs to be fixed later. Think how you would like to live under those conditions. Eventually the creative voice just goes away and you don’t find writing fun anymore, let alone all the rewriting. This is why most rewrite authors who do make it are very short-lived careers. They become a “whatever happened to…” ghost.
Knowing Your Ending… This, to the creative voice, is exactly like you picking up a book, flipping to the last pages, reading the ending, then thinking the book will be interesting to read. This comes from fear, brought on by the critical voice being afraid of “wasting” your time and so on. You know, stuff parents said to you in the real world. If you need to figure out the ending because of fear, you will lose your creative voice almost instantly and the project will lose excitement and mostly just die.
Writing is Hard Work… No creative voice wants to show up with that belief system. That is all a myth and remember, the creative voice is like a two-year-old in nature. It doesn’t want to do anything it is forced to do. So when you keep repeating over and over to make your ego feel better that writing is hard work to be suffered over, your creative voice says screw that and leaves. And then writing from critical voice does become hard work and your books are dull.
The Creative Voice Needs Rest… This might be one of the most deadly of them all, actually. A creative voice can play as much as you allow it for as long as you let it play. Two-year-old, remember? But if you have bought into one of the really stupid myths that the creative voice needs to recharge after an hour or a blazing 500 words or something silly like that, you are basically telling the creative voice it has to quit just when it gets going. Now life issues it understands and waits without issue, but when you are just pulling a parent and saying, “You have had enough now, time to nap,” the creative voice turns its attention to something else. And often won’t return the next day when you want it. Again, why should it? A scary deadly myth.
So there are others, but that is enough for now. Might want to check in with yourself as you read those, figure out which ones sounded right to you, which ones your critical parent voice pushed back on, and which myth you still buy into.
What is the Solution?
There really is one solution to all of the above and the others I didn’t mention. Let the creative voice control at all times. Let it build up trust that you will allow it to write without parental demands on it.
Anything negative is parent critical voice. “That sucks.” “It really doesn’t work.” “I’m afraid I will waste my time.” And so on.
Or parental demands like “That is hot, I need to write a book in that genre.”
Leave your creative voice alone, folks.
Change to positive. And how do you do that with so much training in the other way? Actually, simply do three things…
1… Stop caring so much about the final product, just do the best you can.
2… Write one draft, clean with cycling in creative voice, and release with a promise to yourself you won’t touch it again.
3… Have fun. Make writing fun again. Make it play.
Then stand back because you will be writing stories you never expected to write and having a blast doing it.
In the post above, Dean is absolutely spot on.
My own personal pariah at times is trying to figure out what comes next. That used to bog me down, sometimes to the point that I would eventually abandon a work in progress.
Now when that happens, I get up from my dedicated writing computer and take a walk for a half-hour to an hour. While I’m out, I look around, enjoy the scenery, anything but “think” about the story.
When I go back, i sit down and just write the next sentence.
It works, folks. You have only to learn to trust yourself.
‘Til next time, happy writing.