Friday, September 29, 2006

Instinct and Intent

Today I finished the first draft of the first chapter of Drums of the North Star. It wasn't easy as I throttled that inner critic and just wrote, but two things helped me. Both were tidbits said to me by my friend Donna.

1) Trust your instinct. This is a tough one for me these days. It seems the more I read about how to write, the less sure of myself and what I'm trying to say I become. When I took a class from T. Davis Bunn last spring, one thing he mentioned was how a writer needs to have all the confidence in the world when writing a first draft and no confidence at all when editing the subsequent drafts. Today I was able to plow through by telling myself to ignore the uncertainty holding me back and trust my instincts to tell a story. Amazing results. Things I know I've worked out in my subconscious were allowed to flow to the surface and onto the screen. Some things had me sitting back and saying, "Yeah, that's what I meant, but where did it come from?"

2) There is a difference between wanting to write and wanting to have written. You might have to stop and think about that one a bit. I sure did. Do I want to write, to be a writer? Or do I just want to have written? Do I want to relish the creative process or do I want to rest on laurels? Am I willing to do the hard work for the joy it brings me, or do I wish it was all done so I could brag about it? Hmmm...I want to write. I want to enjoy that process, the 'a-ha' moments when pieces fit together with unexpected symmetry, the shaping of fictional events and the portraying of characters that are meaningful and enjoyable in a novel. For me, I don't want it to be enough to say I wrote some stories. I want it to be necessary to continue to write.

So, Donna, thanks for those bits of advice. I took them to heart. I'm not saying you won't have to remind me again from time to time, but the lesson was implemented today.

The ms stands at just over 4K words now. One chapter. 13 pages. A sound start.


  1. Dirty darn, you make me sound so smart!

    Guess the best thing about advice is that what you learn the hard way sticks with you. Somebody shared those tidbits with me and I have to keep being reminded too. So I'll remind you if you remind me.

    A first chapter---HOORAY! Wish I could say the same with my WIP but I'm still procrastinating. Guess I needed this reminder to take my own advice tonight.

  2. Sage advice, my friend! I walked through the Christian book store today and just gaped at all the books that "have been written." In a new way I could put myself in the shoes of each and every author. I know what it feels like to pour your heart into a book, and then wait.

    I want to enjoy the "writing" journey. Without enjoying the process of writing, the quality will be trash and I'll never get to know what it feels like to walk through the store and see the book that I "have written."

    Spock could get to a new destination by simply asking Scotty to "beam (him) up." I don't think God works that way usually. He wants us to enjoy the journey, not just the destination.

  3. That's great advice! I never thought about the distinction between 1st and subsequent drafts in terms of confidence, but it makes sense.