Sunday, May 8, 2016

Sunday Musings: Overcoming influenced writing blocks

Hello, Sunday and Happy Mother's Day!

The one thing a mom does is give advice. She'll also pull you up when you're feeling down or just can't get motivated.

However, even the best motivation and support in the world can't always help you with a writing block which brings us to Terri's question, following up from a previous week:

...taking the idea of outside feedback influence - has it ever caused a block in your writing? How did you overcome this block?

There are times when I listened to feedback that I didn’t feel entirely matched my vision of what I wanted for the story. And then I would sit and stare at the computer screen. I might squeeze out a few lines, but nothing would flow. There are times when I’ve backed up a fair amount to where I felt things went astray. When I fixed them, I was able to move forward. I’ve had good feedback too, that helped get me past a block when my own ideas went off the rails, just to be fair. To me, the most important thing was a willingness to discard what wasn’t working (sometimes only as far as an outtakes file), and then work forward from there. It’s like fixing a knitting project – sometimes you have to rip that sucker out past the flaw or the project isn’t worth finishing. (Of course I prefer crochet – I’m much better at fudging it with crochet.)

Some time ago, I sent a manuscript to a literary consultancy, who critique stories and produce an in depth report. The feedback was comprehensive, and highlighted each occasion when I hadn't follow the rules of writing. I subsequently tried to correct all the 'errors', even though in a few instances, I thought that bending the rules was the best option. However, the resulting manuscript was so stilted in places, that I no longer felt happy about it and the more I tried to change it to conform to the rules, the worse it got. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I wasn't capable of correcting everything properly and my confidence plummeted until I was convinced that I simply couldn't write. And even worse than that, I decided that I no longer wanted to write.  

Luckily for me, the day after I'd laid down my pen forever, I received an acceptance from a women's magazine, for a short story I'd written.
It was such a boost to my confidence!

Since that day, my opinion about what constitutes writing success, has changed. Now, I think that if I enjoy writing a story, then I've been successful, whether or not anyone else ever reads it. If my story is accepted for publication, that is the icing on the cake, but I now feel free to write what I like and to enjoy it, even if it means bending the rules occasionally. Sending my manuscript to the literary consultancy was painful at the time but now I'm grateful, because I discovered what is really important to me.

Yes. Outside feedback has caused a form of writers block. Not sure how it all happened, or why it’ll creep up on me again (or when, lol). I’m not sure exactly how I overcame it, only that my mind just stopped listening (or rather hearing) and started writing-slash-creating again. It’s a process, I like to believe. It’s like that saying. Everything has a time. Whether it’s life, death, winter or spring. Each gets their turn to roll about. Then it’s that time again for the next one to move up. It’s the same with writing and processing everything that comes through. Both good and bad from outside feedback/influence. You can see it as a test. Life is about learning after all. Whatever comes out through feedback gives us a moment to re-evaluate what we’re creating and lets us decide if we want to continue forward. Is what we’re writing what we really want to? Is there something to change? Alter? Do we believe we can make a go at it?

Eventually, I took that deep breath and cleared my mind of everything but the world I’d created and the story I was writing. It sounds easier than it was, but that’s all I did. I also did research for new ideas. Listened to music, watched movies and television shows, for fun of course. Lol I took back my power and didn’t let the block win. Funny, thing? That works even when you have writers block from nothing too. Lol

Outside feedback can be dangerous. I normally don’t illicit feedback until I’m in the edits stage or people start reviewing my books or reacting to them in some way. The reason I don’t do that is because I don’t want someone else’s ideas interrupting my own mind’s work on the story.

In seventh grade, I had a lesson in writer’s integrity. We were required to write a story every week (this prepared us to having to write an essay weekly when we got to high school). We also had to read those stories out loud. When it was my turn, a friend of mine suggested an alternative ending to my story. I wrote it. She was happy. But I always felt that I’d compromised something. I think that’s why I’ve never been able to be a true romance writer. I like my endings that somehow recognize that a huge shoe is about to drop sometime in these characters lives.

However, I do appreciate my content editor’s suggestions. She knows my writer’s voice and usually where my stories are headed. I trust her vision like no other.

Dear reader, thank you again for joining us and we’d love to hear from you. Keep smiling and have a fun week. Never stop believing. See you next Sunday…nothing better than being cozy in bed with some Musings.

If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman  at

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