Let the Story Out: Turning Inner Doubt Into Creative Writing Flow

Let the Story Out: Turning Inner Doubt Into Creative Writing Flow

Let the Story Out: Turning Inner Doubt Into Creative Writing Flow

There’s something inherently scary in putting our writing out into the world. Writing is an act of personal, intimate creation, and sharing that work can leave us feeling vulnerable, making putting a piece out there almost impossible for fear of criticism.

I know this feeling as much as any writer. After years of workshop-style feedback, it’s a wonder I dared pick up the pen again. My characters were implausible, my plots trite–or was it the other way around?

Whatever the case, it left me with doubts. Those doubts crept up and kept me from writing or finishing a project.

Even to this day, I have moments when I feel as if everything needs to be perfect, when it just needs to be done.

Sometimes, it can be really scary to finish a writing project. That sounds counter intuitive because after all- isn’t that what we all want: to finish it and get it out into the world? Yes. And yet- no.

Sometimes, there’s a force holding us back, something inexplicable, something about the vulnerability or the rawness of being out there. It’s scary to know you might be (probably will be) judged and criticized.

The reality of the situation is that when we know our writing will be judged, we want it to be accepted–in that same way that we want that for ourselves. It’s a perfectly natural way to feel.

Creativity is a fragile thing, and negative feedback in the wrong moment can shut us down. As I’ve mentioned in previous reflections, the creative process and the editing process are two separate cognitive functions.  I think we have all experienced a kind of “being in the wrong place at the wrong time” that has shut down our creativity.

I know I have–and there were a lot of tears, and self-doubt, and writeless days and weeks that followed.

I don’t want that for you–I want you to bloom and grow forever (To quote my favorite musical. Anyone picking up what I’m laying down?)

I want you to be in that creative zone where writing flows, and you feel good about what’s happening, like it’s got some potential, and the inner critic is gagged and sleeping in the corner.

To that end, I’d love to have you join us for our next whizbang (Isn’t that a great word?) writers’ retreat. Please apply for the upcoming writing retreat here: www.datewiththemuse.com/retreat

Remember: People’s judgments of you are only manifestations of their own turmoil, not truly of you.

Don’t let other people limit your dreams. You have a story inside you–let it out.

Happy Writing.

How feedback is ruining your writing– and what to do about it

How feedback is ruining your writing– and what to do about it

How feedback is ruining your writing– and what to do about it

How feedback is ruining your writing-- and what to do about it

Sound check. ReeeeeeEEEEEEEE.

You know the squealing noise where everyone reaches up to cover his or her ears?

The irony of the double-entendre is not lost on me. We seek out feedback on our writing– create workshops for that express purpose– and yet at times that feedback can be the very thing that gets in the way of our writing success.tweet able writing tips

The often-repeated phrase: too many cooks spoil the broth, applies when we receive an overwhelming number of responses to our writing. Once we’ve solicited a lot of feedback, it can be difficult to figure out which voices to listen to for the final direction of the piece.

The problem, oftentimes, though isn’t the feedback itself, but the timing of the feedback.

 For every part of the writing process, there is a season, and the act of creation is as separate and distinct from the act of polishing and revision, as spring is from fall.

Confusing these two can be detrimental to a writing piece, but all is not lost.

Let’s understand what’s really going on.
When we’ve gotten feedback too soon, it’s hard to return to our creative self and really tune in to the creative needs of the story. To get back into creative flow, we need to get ourselves out of critique mode and into creative mode.tweet able writing tips

How can we do this? Let’s say you’ve been part of a  feedback conversation that sounds like this:

            “I really think your character should do X.”

            “No, he should do Y.”

            “It doesn’t make sense for him to do what you’ve written, you should…”

Sound familiar?  This is a piece that’s been workshopped too soon.


It’s time to sit down and have a conversation with the character– no really. If you want to write it out– fine. If you want to talk it out–great. If you want to go for a walk with your character–ok. The point is: it’s time for some quality Q&A.

Start the conversation with your character like this:

           What did you do?

           Why did you do that?

           What did you want? Did you get what you wanted?

As you start this “conversation” with the character, allow him to speak in his own voice as you write or listen, and you’ll get back on track with where the story is meant to go. The point is to get back into the mode of creation, without judgment, critique, or the shadow of anyone’s feedback.

The story and all of its elements– character, motivation, sequencing–needs to stay true to itself in order to read as authentic.

If you’re meeting someone else’s needs in the creative phase, your story will sound contrived, and it won’t sit right with you.

Once you’ve gotten back into the creative phase, you can get the story back on track.

It is also possible that not only was your piece workshopped too soon, but the feedback wasn’t the best to help your piece move forward.

Stay tuned for the next post on how to solicit the best feedback from the get go, and how to know the moment when your piece is ready to share.

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