Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Why We Don’t Need to Stress over the Writing #IWSG

Immersed in game design as I currently am, I was thinking about what I liked about certain games over others. One of the major elements is beautiful art. The imagery can come from a range of different styles, as long as it’s gorgeous or awesome in some way. However, the art isn’t what holds me to a game and keeps me playing. There needs to be more to it—fun game play, a great plot, perhaps achievements to strive toward. And the list goes on.

This inevitably led my thoughts to writing. It’s not enough to have gorgeous writing. You also need an engaging plot, interesting characters, something to draw the readers to the end of the book so they come away with a satisfying experience.

And that’s why it’s important not to stress over the writing. If you want to make writing your career, then focus first on the story and get that right. Make sure the concept is marketable, the characters are engaging, and the holes are puttied so it holds together from beginning to end. Then fix the writing.

It needs repeating: Don’t stress over the writing. Our time is better spent getting the story right. The rest is fixable.

Do you stress over all those little details before the big details are sorted? What do you do to manage your time and your stress?

This post was written for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We post on the first Wednesday of every month. To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE.

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75 comments:

  1. HOLLYWOOD SPY tends to relieve me from stress, because while I'm at it I just forget about the every day problems....

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    1. It's good to have that kind of outlet. And it's enjoyable for others too!!

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  2. We must be joined by some secret tie. My thoughts exactly. :-)

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    1. Aussie sisters, both with a love for travel and writing... I'm not surprised :)

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  3. I don't stress over gorgeous writing. I know I don't write that way. So I don't worry about it anymore.

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    1. Your writing is gorgeous in a different way.

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  4. You are v so right. Story is more important than great writing. Working on that now!!

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  5. I'm like Alex. I don't write gorgeously and I'm okay with it.

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  6. I have enough stress at home, so I don't need it when I write.

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  7. So right. Stress only mucks up the process.

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    1. It holds us back and slows us down. It might even stop us from writing altogether.

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  8. I finally got my story straight and now I can enjoy the writing.

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    1. Yay!! I think it's important to enjoy writing.

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  9. When I first started writing, I did stress over those little details; drove myself nuts, actually. But over the years I've learned that's a waste of my precious creative time. Get the story out and focus on the rest later.

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    1. I think we've all done that. I even do it in game development. I want to make everything look pretty before I know if it even works. lol.

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  10. Very true, have to get the story write, the writing style can come after.

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  11. I've gotten better at getting the story right in the first draft and fixing the writing in the next few drafts.
    Susan Says

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    1. It can take time. Of course, sometimes a little indulgence is okay too...

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  12. I can't agree more. Get your passion down and then look at the writing rules. :-)

    Anna from Elements of Writing

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    1. yep..don't let anything hold back that passion.

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  13. Absolutely! Because there are plenty of books who do not have lush, gorgeous writing, and they do really well (are popular bestsellers) because they are awesome on plot, pacing, and character. Those things are key.

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    1. Those elements are so important for offering a satisfying read.

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  14. Plot, pacing, real characters. These are the mainstay of writing--not fancy writing or words. Of course, it is difficult to keep stress locked up in the cupboard. Thanks for sharing this with your readers, Lynda.

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    1. Sometimes stress needs to come out too...as long as it doesn't come out as a crazed monster then we're good ;)

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    2. Stress and Insecurity live together in my cupboard, and man can they rattle the hinges sometimes. But when the kids inadvertently open that door, the two brats race toward my writing space on the porch and hang like lead from my wrists. Thanks again for your insight, Lynda.

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    3. Yep, I can relate, but we can't let them hang there for too long.

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    4. Boy, is that true. We'd never get anything done if we did. Thanks again for this, Lynda.

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  15. Absolutely true. I struggle to switch off the inner editor and keep rewording sentences as I go, but the story and characters are the most important things!

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    1. I find the story has a far better flow when I don't keep stopping to tweak the sentences.

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  16. I think my favorite part of writing is the details and the language, but you're right, working on the story and getting that right is the most important part.

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    1. Those details are fun to play with, and it's perfectly fine to stop and tweak now and then. When it becomes an interruption to the flow, or even a habit or an excuse to avoid the story, then it can really slow us down.

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  17. That advice sounds great to me. Getting the words onto paper is definitely the hardest part for me. I'm not too bad at the other stuff, and I know I can still get better, but the writing part.... Arg!

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    1. It's a good way of facing the dreaded blank page.

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  18. Agreed. Very sage advice. I lay the story out first and consider the rest 'layering'.

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    1. For me that's definitely the best way to go.

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  19. On the first draft, I try not to worry about how pretty or ugly my writing is. I just want to get the story down then I'll worry about making it pretty later.

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    1. Even a second draft might need a major overhaul that makes beautifying anything previously a time drain.

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  20. I draft pretty fast because I just want to get my story down on paper. I used to draft slowly, and that didn't help me much because I would go back and obsess over so many things. I worry about everything else when I revise and edit.

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    1. Those first drafts are not fit for public consumption...and that's okay!!

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  21. If I'm in the story I have no stress, but when I'm not...look out. I'm miserable and I can't always keep that a secret.

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    1. hehe, yeah I can relate...and so can my hubby ;)

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    2. They do take the brunt of it all, don't they?

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    3. Ain't that the truth! I'm blessed he understands and loves me anyway.

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  22. Sometimes I over-stress; other times let it all go and do something else. That's balance, right :)

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    1. Ha, I like your thinking. And besides, it's all part of the creative process...

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  23. I have a stress issue. I'm learning better how to manage it by learning what triggers it. So I do what I can to avoid the worst triggers. Exercise and regular breaks help a lot!

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    1. It's amazing how much regular exercise helps.

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  24. I've read books with great writing but nothing else, no plot, no characters to care about. The writing sustains you for a while, but there has to be something to strive towards. Character growth, resolution, whatever.

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  25. Hi, Lynda,

    Well said, Lynda. Yes, the story is what grabs the reader, not so much the writing. I write very atmospheric and lush, but I ALWAYS get the plots and characters sterling first before diving back into the prose.

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  26. You nailed it Lynda.
    A solid story with everything in its correct place is important. The foundation should be solid.

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    1. It's not always easy to get that foundation right, but it's so important.

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  27. Details are important, but I don't stresss over them because it'll only detract from my will to write. Just got to have faith that all will work out well:)

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    1. And we don't want anything to detract from that will to write.

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  28. Well said. I've actually gotten much better at just getting the story done, and in revision, fixing the big things first. Then I agonize over all the tiny changes :-)

    Another writer once pointed out to me, why start by making the writing in a particular scene perfect only to discover that scene does nothing to serve the story, and needs to be cut. You'll have wasted hours making garbage as pretty as possible, just to throw it away. Or worse, you won't want to throw it away, because of all those hours of work. And now there's a big, sore thumb in the story that doesn't fit.

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    1. That writer said it well and it's that thinking that often stops me from making the words pretty (wasting time) until I'm happy with the whole.

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  29. It's not only the writing you shouldn't stress about, it's the whole process. Look for an agent or a publisher can be a game...Just keep "practicing" trying until you win what you want. (My perspective anyway.)

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  30. Like others commented, I've also gotten better at getting the story right then re-focusing on the minor points (that are equally as important but one can't eat an elephant at one sitting, so to speak).

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    1. If one did try to eat an elephant in one sitting, one would regret it ;)

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  31. I'm right there with you. I ignore my prose in early drafts to get the plot/character arcs right. The prose takes priority in my second to last edit. Of course, I'm not going to shun a pretty metaphor just because I'm in the early stages of drafting, but there will probably be three hundred "light"s or "looks" just in the first 100 pages. (Before editing of course.)

    Awesome advice, Lynda. Oh, and I mentioned you today. :D http://crystalcollier.blogspot.com/2015/07/very-inspired-by.html

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    1. I don't show anyone my first drafts because, well, they are truly ugly. And aw... popping on over.

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    2. I hear you! No one sees my book until at LEAST draft 3.

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  32. Great post, Lynda. But I do stress over small stuff which keeps me from completing a project.

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    1. It's natural. You just can't let it take control. (I know, easier said than done...)

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  33. 'There needs to be more to it...' That's so true. It's also one of the reasons why the majority of special effects movies are just that: special effects movies. There needs to be more to them. Like... a great idea. Something that touches you, the viewers, the gamers, the reader.

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    1. yeah, I blame the execs. They have eyes on the money only, with no idea what it actually is that makes a good story.

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  34. Not at all. I love writing and researching far too much to sweat the small stuff. That's what I pay my editor to do.

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I'd love to hear your opinion. Thanks for leaving a comment.