Thursday, August 4, 2011

Let's Not Overthink This

Often times there are certain story elements that we find very intimidating to tackle as writers. Some things flow easily and don't scare us at all, but others we feel a huge sense of responsibility to get perfect because they mark a significant moment or turning point in our characters.

Of course the easiest way to avoid this sort of anxiety is to give in to the intimidation and simply not write it. I think we can often spend so much time worrying about writing something that it makes it ten times worse than it could possibly be.

The most glaring example of this is the infamous first time. Whether you think it takes place on the way to Bespin, after he gets out of carbonite, after the battle of Endor, after their wedding or maybe even sometime before ESB, this is obviously a huge moment in their relationship, probably the most important moment. I had thought about writing it for years and was too intimidated to even try. And I'm not talking about being too intimidated to publish, I mean too intimidated to even sit down and write it for only myself with no intention of actually showing it to anyone else. I realize this sounds a bit crazy, but I have a feeling I'm not alone here.

Now that I finally decided to write it - which just occurred to me for no particular reason, I just finally felt inspired and like maybe I could write it and get it out there - I wonder why I made such a big deal out of it. Now that it's out there, I don't even think about it anymore. Not a whole lot of other people saw it as a big deal and I don't see why I made it out to be.

I feel that a lot of times as writers we can really overthink things to the point of stifling our own creativity. Han wouldn't waste time worrying about the consequences of his actions or what people might think, he'd just do it. And you know what? He doesn't really seem like he regrets much. Except maybe dumping Jabba's spice haul....

So stop overthinking things. Don't not write something because the subject matter intimidates you, just go ahead and do it. And sure, maybe after you write it you'll decide you're not happy with it and don't want to show it to anyone else and that's okay too. I think we tend to give our readers too much influence on how we feel about our own writing. And it's also funny how we can get twenty positive reviews but we will fixate on the one negative comment. It probably isn't even a mean-spirited comment, but we tend to put far more stock in the criticisms we receive than the praises.

Here's the thing: nobody puts as much thought into your writing as you do. They are only going to see the writing itself and aren't going to be able to see how worried you were about getting it just right or how much anxiety you had when you finally hit the publish button and waited for a few reviews. I started writing fanfic almost ten years ago (only recently started publishing) and it took me until a month ago to finally write and publish this big moment that I had been too scared to write. The truth of it is, nobody really cares that much. They don't see it as such a huge thing. They just see it as another story to read. You agonize over writing something and then you get a couple of comments and that's the end of it and you wonder why you were so worried about it for so long. It's only been a month and I almost forgot I even published it.

So stop worrying so much about what other people are thinking and just write what you want to write. Don't be intimidated by stuff that you think is such a huge deal because most other people aren't going to see it that way. Leia always spends a lot of time thinking about the consequences of her actions. Be like Han instead, just write and put it out there. It's just writing. There aren't really any consequences anyway.


  1. But Han gets frozen in carbonite!

    Hah, but you're right. It's surprising sometimes to find things you were so worried about writing end up being a breeze. Just dive in, and if it doesn't work, then it doesn't work. Better find out for yourself rather that lay around stressing about it. Easier said than done though. :P

  2. Yes, but it all worked out ok in the end for him, didn't it?

    And it is sort of silly that we actually stress over things like this. Most of us are anonymous writers writing stories for people who are interested enough in what you're writing to like almost anything you put out there.

    But I'd agree, all of this is easier said than done. Anything I have said on here I have been guilty of and will probably continue to be. But it helps to get it out there and know that other people are going through the same stuff.

  3. Writing the no pants dance scares me. First time or fiftieth, it's too scary. I just lead up to it and then run away screaming. Arguments I'm intimidated by too, I always worry I'll go too far and over the top or pull it back too much so it's just not Han and Leia any more. Actually, all emotional stuff is pretty terrifying. Hmm, going back to Push's post on descriptions, that is also a worry. Okay, I'm intimidated by it all, it's quite surprising that I haven't had a nervous breakdown! ;)

    I don't know why I worry so much though. If I've not gone far enough, Z tells me to add more or if I've gone too far, she'll tell me to bring it back. Maybe that's the answer, just chill out and go with it then let your beta reader do all the hard work :D

  4. Digs, I'm down with that plan!

  5. Why do I always wind up stuck with the hard work?

  6. I never would have guessed that you were so worried about posting it Zyra! Your description of their first time was one of the best I've ever read!

  7. Well, thanks, emma. You guys may or may not be amazed at how much both of us agonize over posting almost everything!