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Writing a book means letting go, trusting those instincts

February 8, 2013


Who knows where your writing will take you? How do you know what those crazy characters in your novel will do? Hey, that’s the beauty of it. I mean, do you really have to control every single word you write? Is it necessary to sit down every day before you write and think your way through the writing process?

I don’t think so. In fact, for many years I’ve argued against this left brain method, this business of planning a book down to the nth degree. It’s not that I’m against outlining, but only as a blue print. Sure, we all have an idea about what we want to write when we begin a book, but the real joy in bringing alive a story, be it a novel or a nonfiction work, is what happens when we begin writing, the magic that can take over the whole writing process.

Writing is a journey, and a pretty wonderful one if you let yourself go, if you go with your heart and get the words down as fast as you can. It means trusting your instincts, trusting yourself. You don’t have to stick with some plan when you write. It’s too easy to write yourself into a corner. 

Let’s say you have an idea for a book, that coming of age story of your life you’ve always wanted to write. I think you have a pretty good idea, given it’s your life, what will go into the book. After all, you’ve been carrying around these ideas, these feelings, these emotions all your life. A story, a compelling and interesting one, can spill out onto the pages if you give it a chance. Why think it to death? If you’re any kind of a self-analytical person you probably have thought endlessly about your life. So, pour those thoughts out. And that goes for any possible book idea that you’ve thought long and hard about. Of course, some people write books they don’t even know they had in them. 

Writing means letting go. Remember, you can always edit later. As Sean Connery in the movie Finding Forrester instructed a young writer: “You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is… to write, not to think!”

Try it sometime. Get those words out as fast as you can. And then later, see what you came up with. You might be surprised of the story you gave birth to on those pages. You might find you love the bounce in the prose, the flow of it all. Okay. I’ll concede that there is a chance you won’t like what you wrote. If not, ask yourself: Did I get it all down on paper as fast as I could? Perhaps you did but you still don’t like it. So what. Does it mean you’ve failed? Hardly. So you spent a few days banging away at the keyboard. Try something else. Take another thought, do some brainstorming and go at it again.
Does the thought of a book intimidate you? Try a short story. Write an article or essay. Do you really want to spend more time agonizing about being a writer. Do something.
Let go. 


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  1. These are the absolutely perfect words I needed to hear today! Thank you.

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  1. Writing a book means letting go, trusting those instincts « mreuther

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