Are You Unwittingly Sabotaging Yourself by Talking About Your Writing?
You’ve got a great idea for a novel, and you can hardly stop yourself telling your friends about it. The only problem is, the more you talk about your idea, the harder it seems to be to get started.
Or … you’re planning to start a blog, and you’ve been chatting to your partner about it for weeks. Whenever you sit down to draft a post, though, you find yourself staring at a blank screen. What’s going on?
“Talking” here also covers Facebook, forums, Twitter, and other non-verbal forms of chatter!
Talking Can Scratch That Writing Itch
All writers want – need – to share their thoughts with the world. They invent imaginary people, or come up with great new ideas, or work out cool plot twists.
The problem is, if you spend too much time talking about your story or blog or other writing plans, you’re likely to find that your writing energy dissipates.
When you sit down to write, you might feel like you no longer need to. You’ve already explored and expressed those ideas.
Talking about writing can also make you feel like you’ve accomplished something. After all, if your friends all know you’re going to write the Great American Novel any day now, you may feel like a writer already – even if you’ve not set a single word down on paper.
Other People May Discourage You
Instead of talking about the details of your work-in-progress, you discuss your writing more broadly – in terms of your career and major goals.
One of your friends rolls their eyes. They think of writers as some special breed, and they don’t believe that you can call yourself a writer. (Ignore them; you are a writer!)
Another says, “But you’ll never make any money writing.”
A third friend adds, trying to be kind, “It’s a lovely dream. But it’s not very realistic, is it?”
At best, perhaps someone offers a wildly different alterative plan, telling you, “The real money is in romance novels,” or “Why don’t you write a children’s book?” – however far this is from your dreams.
Your friends and family usually don’t mean to make you feel down.
They might be worried that you’ll go for your dreams and fail, so they’re trying to protect you. Or they might have no idea why you’d want to be a writer. Occasionally, they might feel threatened by your ambition – especially if they’ve given up on creative ideas of their own.
Talking about writing isn’t always bad, though. Done right, it can be a great way to get inspired and motivated.
Find Fellow Writers Who’ll Support and Encourage You
Other writers understand what it’s like – the good and the bad. Unlike non-writing friends, they’ll get it.
They’ll help you celebrate the successes that other friends might not understand, and they’ll encourage you to keep going when things are tough.
They know you don’t want to switch genres just because there might be more money in it.
They know that it’s not really about the money.
They know what you mean when you talk about a character “coming to life.”
They can encourage you to take a step outside your comfort zone.
Some writers find it’s helpful to get together and write at the same time, perhaps in a coffee shop, or one person’s house. (If you live in a major city, you may well find organized events for this – particularly during November for National Novel Writing Month.)
Get Friends to Keep You Accountable
Non-writing friends can still help – as can your blog readers, Twitter followers, fellow forum members, and other online acquaintances.
You might not want to share in-depth details about your fight against plot holes, or your struggles to keep your characters in line … but you could tell them your word count goal for the week ahead.
Being accountable (and having a deadline) is incredibly helpful. If all your Facebook friends know that you’re aiming to write 2,000 words before midnight on Sunday, you’ll be more motivated to keep on writing.
Talk Through a Problem with a Writing Buddy
Sometimes, you’re not stalled because of any lack of motivation. You’ve got the time and energy to write – but something’s not working.
Maybe you need a character to act in a certain way to meet the demands of the plot – but you can’t quite make their behavior fit.
Maybe you’re debating between several different directions for your story.
Maybe you need a back-story for your protagonist – but you don’t know what.
This is where a writing buddy can help. Ideally, this will be someone at a similar level of writing to you (if they’re a total newbie and you’ve had three novels published, or vice versa, it’s not going to work).
Talk through the problem. Explain where you’ve got to, and what’s not working.
Sometimes, simply talking it out can help you see a solution. Other times, your buddy might make suggestions that help. (Even if your response is “no, that would never work,” you might at least rule out a particular idea!)
One last thing, YOU are a writer. State it with confidence:
“I AM a writer!” – Tweet it.
Do you talk about your writing or any of your creative projects? Who do you talk to – and does it help? Let us know your experiences in the comments.
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