The Journal: Analysis Paralysis

In today’s Journal

* Quote of the Day
* Wes Crowley Rides Again
* Topic: Analysis Paralysis
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quote of the Day

When you doubt your importance as a writer compared with editors and publishers, remember this brief one-sided conversation I had with a major NY acquisitions editor who seemed a little full of himself a few years ago at the Tucson, AZ writers’ conference:

I said, “Know what writers would do if there were no editors or publishers?”
He shook his head.
I said, “We’d write. But do you know what editors and publishers would do if there were no writers?”
Again he shook his head.
I grinned. “Want fries with that?”

Wes Crowley Rides Again

This morning I started the 12th novel in the Wes Crowley saga. It was a slow start, not because it was difficult (At All) but because I’m enjoying it so much, savoring it.

I was telling a friend this one probably will take longer than my usual two weeks or so to write because I won’t want it to end. So while I’m writing this one I won’t be worrying as much about my daily word count goal and all that. Just loving the process.

Topic: Analysis Paralysis

Another writer friend used a term I hadn’t heard in awhile. Said he had to get over his analysis paralysis.

Initially I told him a lot of us have been there. I certainly have. And the only way I got over it was to hold my breath and just type whatever came. Then I wrote the next sentence and the next and the next. I’m aware that sounds too simple to work, but it does. Forcing yourself to take the leap and trust yourself is the hard part.

But I didn’t really ‘learn’ to trust myself over time, and I don’t really think that would work. I mean, consider—in order to ‘learn’ to trust yourself over time, you have to accept that you don’t trust yourself over that same period of time. And really, why?

So in order to give WITD a real test, I ‘decided’ to trust myself, come what may.

i had to beat back various fears more times than I can count, but I always clung to that decision, and now WITD (trusting myself and knowing THAT I write is far more important than WHAT I write) is second nature to me.

But my friend’s email caused me to think about something else. Most writers I know have been hugely successful in other endeavors. Doctors, lawyers, police officers. University professors, carpenters. One guy in Tucson owned a successful carpeting and flooring store.

In all of those endeavors, with one misstep the person could have lost everything. They could have lost their license and/or the right to practice. They could have even gone bankrupt, etc. Yet they trusted themselves to rely on what they’d learned in the past as if it were instinct. And that’s key.

As I wrote my friend, the point is, you’ve probably trusted yourself and been successful in other areas of life, so why not trust yourself in writing? Especially since in writing there are no repercussions. Zero. You have absolutely nothing to lose.

Writiing is Just Writing. Stories are Just Stories. What one reader likes another reader won’t.

And what a reader likes or doesn’t like is none of your business anyway. You can’t control who likes your stories and who doesn’t. You can’t control how many people buy your novels. The only thing you can control is 1) whether you write and 2) whether you keep learning and improving at storytelling. Because as a writer, your business, your sole focus, is to tell stories.

Then another thought occurred. I’m always talking about writing being fun, and it is. As I wrote earlier, it isn’t that I don’t have any fear of the unknown; it’s that I repeatedly overcome that fear by trusting myself to write the next sentence. (And reminding myself that there really are no real repercussions.)

But I know at least one person (a Stage 1 writer) who literally labors over every word and sentence. She was a student who actually walked out of one of my live seminars on WITD. She literally put up her hands, said, “I’m sorry, I can’t do this,” and walked out.

When I talked with her later, she dismissed out of hand my notion that what’s ‘perfect’ to her will be flawed to another reader.

Whereas most of us write around 1000 words per hour (17 words per minute), she writes maybe 100 or 200 words per day, if that. But according to her, they’re perfect words, perfect sentences.

I never was able to convince her to trust herself, to know that she could reach that same level of ‘near perfection’ by WITD and letting the characters tell the story.

To her, laboring over every word is how she likes to spend her day. Or at least she’s convinced herself it is. And that’s fine. Hey, whatever works.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “The New Holy Grail of Traditional Publishers: Direct-to-Reader Relationships” at Hmm, sounds familiar. Oh yeah. Like indie publishing. (grin)

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 860 words

Writing of Wes Crowley (novel, tentative title)

Day 1…… 3089 words. Total words to date…… 3089

Total fiction words for May……… 24751
Total fiction words for the year………… 396030
Total nonfiction words for May… 7490
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 92350
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 488380

Calendar Year 2021 Novels to Date…………………… 8
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… 1
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… 3
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 61
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

Disclaimer: In this blog, I provide advice on writing fiction. I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. To be crystal clear, WITD is not “the only way” to write, nor will I ever say it is. However, as I am the only writer who advocates WITD both publicly and regularly, I will continue to do so, among myriad other topics.