Friday, April 17, 2009

Paranoia Settling In for a Visit

Lately, there's been this suspicion that my writing is not where it should be.

I read my words and wonder: Am I overwriting? Do I really need to say what the hero smells like? Do I need to describe the feelings that are overwhelming the heroine? Is it necessary to use metaphors?

No one has said I overwrite. So why is my writer's conscious bugging me about it?

I'm chalking it up to paranoia.

Do you ever obsess over something in your writing, despite the lack of a solid foundation (crits) for your worry?

42 comments:

Kristen Painter said...

No, honestly, I don't obsess about my writing like that. I know it's good. And I don't think you're overwriting if you're doing those things, just so long as you're not doing them in every paragraph.

Terri Tiffany said...

A year or two ago, a good writer friend said I overwrote and I had to finally ask what that meant. So I have been trying to tone it down. But I do try to watch it and yes, I obsess that my writing isn't strong enough in some chapters.

Jessica said...

Kristen,
You stinker! I'm so jealous that you don't obsess. :-) Thanks for the pep talk.
It's awesome that you know your writing is good. I think we all need to come to that place where we can see our strenghts and use them.

Jessica said...

Hi Terri,
Great. We can moan and groan together. Heehee! Sounds like a good writer friend to help you like that.

Jody Hedlund said...

I thought I was overwriting in my last book. So in my current one I've tried to write tighter. I think I'm doing fairly well, but my critiquer has found gaps in some places where I need to go back and add more feeling and sensory detail. So I think it's all about trying to find a balance!

Jessica said...

You're probably right Jody. :-)

Jaime said...

I am so focused on the fun of writing I'm not sure I've reached the point of being too critical. Maybe that's a bad thing ... not sure ... I just want to enjoy the journey though. It's fun to get my stories on paper and if they end up being just for me, I'm okay with that.

Jessica said...

Jaime,
I don't think there's anything wrong with that at all. I promise, this is not a fun feeling to have. It's also good that you're practical about your stories and comfortable with the fact that they might stay on paper. Who knows though? You could be a secret literary genius. :-)
I hope you keep having fun with your writing.

Janna Qualman said...

I have been lately, because all I can think about as I revamp Bliss Lake (I'll post on that tomorrow) is that I'm too passive and I'm telling, not showing. It's making me crazy!

But I know I still have time to reread my new stuff, and really sit back to assess it. Eventually we get that honest perspective we need, which overrides any paranoia.

You're doing great, girl.

Jessica said...

Thanks Janna. :-)
I know what you mean about looking back over older manuscripts. I hope you get everything squared away. :-)

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

Just write it out...everything! Don't stop! Don't fret! Then when it's done, give it a "nap". When it "wakes up", it will be time to review, revise and rejoice!

Congrats on the progress you are making with your WIP! Way to go!

quixotic said...

Isn't obsession on our writing part of the whole experience? =p

Yep, I do it too. I constantly go back over my work, nit-picking everything.

Part of that, is it makes me feel like I am "working," on my writing, and the other part is paranoia.

Maybe that feeling will calm down after a few books are published. (one can hope right?)

T. Anne said...

I think the senses should be included every now and again although not at every pages expense.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

I have a tendency to explain too much. I'm getting better, but have to make sure I don't slip into old patterns.

BTW, sorry about the missing post this AM. I just put up an explanation.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Cindy said...

As a matter of fact, I am living in current paranoia. I am so worried that my manuscript I'm waiting for an edit on from my editor is boring in the beginning. I want to rewrite it and send her an e-mail saying, "I promise I'll fix it!" But I think it's just me obsessing over the hook and only seeing it from a writer's point of view, not a readers.

Jessica said...

Good advice Donna! That's what I need to do. LOL It's the times when I'm not writing (but thinking of my story) that I start to obsess. LOL

Jessica said...

LOL Quixotic. I'm hoping it calms down before then. Maybe if we get agents? :-)

So with the obsession thing, I guess we're normal? LOL

Jessica said...

Hi T. Anne,
That's what I need to work on. Not "smelling" everything. *snicker*

Jessica said...

Susan,
Very wise about slipping into old patterns. I think we can all do that now and then.
I was wondering about your post.

Jessica said...

Cindy,
Probably true. The thing about paranoia is that it's not grounded in reality. Our truth is not the Truth. LOL I'm sure your manuscript is fine. :-)

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Oh, I was totally having one of those paranoia moments the other week. Mine are always centered around my writing not being sophisticated enough. I don't even really know what that means! I guess I feel like I should be using more flowery phrases or something. LOL.

I think all writers struggled with self-doubt, but as long as we don't let it get in the way of our writing, I think we can learn to live with the occasional bout of it.

Jessica said...

Live with it??? Noooooo... LOL Just kidding. I think you're right. And don't worry about sophistication (which is completely subjective, btw). Write an awesome story and it's all good. :-)

Windsong said...

Writers are neurotic for a reason. ;) I feel your pain. I'm generally fully confident in a piece until I think about letting other people see it. Then the paranoia sets in. So long as it's used properly, to try and take a more objective look at our work, I think that even paranoia can be a good thing. Hearing voices in my head has proved to be invaluable while writing. :o)

Jessica said...

Haha! Windsong, you're right. I wasn't even feeling paranoid until it was time to send a few chapters my friends way. And then the neurosis began. LOL
I agree. Voices are extremely helpful. Fun too.

Windsong said...

But they can be bossy too. ;)

I guess I can't complain so long as they keep telling the story. :D

Jeannie Campbell said...

we wouldn't be human if we didn't obsess over SOMEthing, right? for me, the obsession isn't so much over my writing. i like it and thing others do, too; i'd read me in a store. :) but i obsess over whether i'm doing enough. am i blogging enough? commenting enough? getting my name out there enough? building platform/brand enough? THESE things (which all distract from writing, btw) are what I obsess about. :)

Lynnette Labelle said...

Oh, yeah. Been there. More than once. UGH. Don't you just hate those days?

Lynnette Labelle
http://lynnettelabelle.blogspot.com

Jessica said...

I really, really do.
It's nice to know we're not alone in our craziness, isn't it?

Lady Glamis said...

Ack! I chalk it up to overthinking. This is when you need to take a break. I'm taking a break from my WIP soon. A nice, long, refreshing break so I can come back to it with new eyes and paranoia isn't an option.

Jessica said...

Overthinking is a much nicer way to put it. LOL Have a nice break. I agree that it def. clears things up.

Jaime said...

secret literary genius! ROTFLOL!!

Jessica said...

Oh c'mon Jaime. It has happened. Think of all those writers who wrote for fun and then were discovered after they...um. never mind. LOL!

Nancy J. Parra said...

I have to admit that I am paranoid as well- but I think this keeps the quality of my writing ever improving. At least, that's my hope. :)

sherrinda said...

When I started my WIP (my first, btw), I had no truouble just writing and getting the story down. I was forced to take a break for a few months due to work and a son getting married. During that time I started reading blogs and websites about writing and realized there was soooo much more to writing. There were RULES! I now "obsess" as I sit down at the keyboard and am almost paralyzed with fear. Not a good thing, I know. I think of the movie, Finding Forrester, when the famous author is mentoring a gifted young writer and he says "Write. Write with your heart and rewrite with your head." Something like that anyway. It is hard to do!

Jessica said...

I hope that too, Nancy. Maybe it will keep us on our toes and not allow us to become lazy.

Jessica said...

Sherrinda, What an awesome quote! That's so true. I understand the paralization, but we have to move past it.
Sometimes it helps to try to forget the rules (key word: try) and just write how you did. You can fix passives and adverbs later on. :-)

Jeanette Levellie said...

Oh, yes. I obsess about not getting enough writing done, then i obsess about how my sentences hang together or don't hang at all, then I obsess about how obsessive i am!
At some point, you just have to do your best, then leave it in God's hands. Getting help is good, but sometimes you know what works well with your characters and the flow of your voice.
I think it's good to tell how a character smells; that's detail that makes a great story. (Now, if you told how every character in your book smelled, i would say you are obesessing about smell! LOL! ahahahahahahhaaaa!!!!!)
I read a book last fall where a writing veteran counseled a newbie, telling her, "Always pray before you write, and love your readers." When i remember to do that, it's better.
Jen

Jessica said...

LOL on the obsessing over the obsession! I like the praying before you write. That's something I don't do enough.

Angie Ledbetter said...

I'm obsessing over the fact that I can't work on my ms revisions!

Jessica said...

LOL Angie! Maybe today... :-)

jessie said...

I am the most fickle critic. One night I think I my book is so wonderful. And the next night it's awful. And in answer to a couple of your questions. I am a lover of metaphors, and I would LOVE to know what your hero smells like.

Jessica said...

LOL! I'm fickle too.
Well, the hero in my first contemporary smells like Cool Water cologne.
The hero in my second cont. smells like Big Red gum, the kind the heroine's grandpa used to chew.
My third hero smells like old-fashioned romance. LOL Haven't decided exactly how to pinpoint that one.

Is it unhealthy, do you think, to remember all this? LOL Do you have certain scents to go with your characters?