So I read this article on the Writer’s Digest website a couple of weeks ago about improving your writing. It was 25 tips from established writers. The first one came from David Morrell who suggested (this is me paraphrasing) that we should treat our book/WIP like a person. If we are having problems with a scene, with a passage, with a part of the plot, we should talk to the book, ask it questions. In other words, if you’re having trouble with your WIP you should just ask it: “What’s your problem?” (That’s a much less eloquent summing up of what Morrell said.) Morrell suggests that this is a “psychological trick” designed to get things moving again. Since I am having difficulty lately moving along with my WIP, I was willing to try anything. So I took a few moments and had a conversation with my WIP. A transcript follows:
Me: We are almost to the end of this draft. Why are you being so obstinate?
The Book: Because I want you to get it right.
Me: Well, dumbass, that’s what editing is for. Let’s just get through this draft. Why don’t you just let me worry about getting it right?
The Book: Because I’m nervous, okay? I could be really cool. I could be a really cool book—if you don’t f*ck it up.
Me: *rolls eyes, sighs heavily* Good Lord. I’m the writer. It’s my job to write. Without me, you’re not going to be anything at all, much less cool. I’ve done this before, you know.
The Book: Yeah, I know, but how do you know you’re doing it right?
Me: *closes eyes, shakes head* Oh. My. God. Really? You think you could be a really cool book but you’re questioning whether I’m doing it right or not—really?
The Book: *crosses arms, shoots me a wary glance* I don’t know, okay? I’m just sayin’—do you really know if you’re doing it right?
Me: *resists strong urge to shake book violently* Well, I’ve been at this awhile, haven’t I? I did manage to get an agent so surely I am doing something right. You know what, Book? I don’t even know why we’re having this discussion because there are no guarantees. You could be an absolute craptastrophe for all we know. But we’ll never find out if we don’t finish and put you out there for critique partners or beta readers. Even if you’re not a craptastrophe, there is still no guarantee that people will like you or that you’ll find an audience. Remember that whole subjectivity thing? You’re at the mercy of it and so am I.
The Book: *looking properly chastised* Okay, okay, I know. You’re right.
Me: Besides, you’re supposed to be fun. You’re supposed to be one of the fun things in my day. Sure, I enjoy hide and seek and watching endless episodes of Scooby Doo as much as the next parent of a toddler but you’re supposed to be the fun grown-up activity in my life. You’re supposed to stimulate me intellectually. I want you to stop acting all high and mighty like you could BE something and start being fun again.
The Book: *muttering under its breath* but I COULD be something . . .
Me: SHUT UP. Right now I just need you to be fun, okay? That’s what I need you to be. Can you do that? Just long enough to finish one freaking draft? Can you just do that for me?
The Book: *exhales noisily* Fine.
Me: Okay. So we’ve just got that one issue of how to get to the ending from where we are now. Why don’t you call the plot fairy and tell her to get her ass over here.
Book: *trudging off* I'll see what I can do.
Well what do you know . . . insecurity rears its ugly head once again! I see where I went wrong. I let it stop being fun. I let my inner-critic take over, steal my pen away and hide it somewhere. I am going to get it back. Soon. Maybe today.
If you had a conversation with your book or WIP, what would that sound like?