Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Take A Step Back – Seeing the Wood as well as the Trees By Chris Joynson


As writers we have to wear multiple hats, there’s the one for actual writing, then when that’s done there’s the editor hat before you send off your baby to be scrutinised by the professionals, and finally the salesman as you have to publise your work on social media and go round conventions (which for someone as socially awkward as me is a truly terrifying prospect).

This can be both really hard to do, and also really helpful as well. Yes, your book is your baby and it’s hard to look at it objectively, but sometimes you just need to step back and look at things from another angle. I know that when I write I have a tendency to get lost in the moment a little bit, the chapter I’m working on that point becomes everything, I obsess over what should be happening, how the characters would react to this and rewriting lines several thousand times. But at the same time I need a part of my brain  to try and to fit this into the grander scheme of things. I ask myself how does this work for the arc of the story and the characters? What bits of information I need to drop and how any changes will affect things later on? Sometimes it feels like my head’s going to explode if I don’t stop juggling so much.

There are times when I leave my writing for the day feeling dejected and that I might as well throw it out the window. Then I come back to it the next day with a fresh pair of eyes and it’s not that bad. I recently read through the novel I’m working in its entirety (instead of editing it one chapter at a time as I have been doing), and I honestly came away a lot happier and prouder of the work than when I’d been burying myself in the details.

That’s not to say that details aren’t important, they are and they deserve your time and effort to get right, but sometimes you just need to stop looking at the trees and appreciate the wood a bit, after all it’s the book as a whole that the readers are going to get, not individual chapters.

So if you’re struggling or getting down about your writing then take a step away and come back the next day, it might not be as bad as you think. Also, if you’re having problems, give the story to a friend to read, or do what I did and join a writer’s group to get advice and helpful opinions on what works and what doesn’t in your story.  When you take all that advice and the different perspectives of your book and put them together in a coherent manner, it’s going to get better, because it always can, and when you’re happy with it, then begins the long journey to get it published.

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