We all do it. We are working on a story…tolling along…when we suddenly realize that we are thinking about our story 24 hours a day. While taking a shower, while driving, while in conversations with other people…hell you are even lying in bed, wide wake running through character traits. How do you know when it is all too much?
The answer is, when all you can think about is your story or if your child is on fire after trying to make bacon and you find yourself trying to figure out just the right description for what the fire looks like as it fries him/her…you are way too obsessed with your manuscript. Writing is supposed to be fun and if you are obsessed the writing is no longer fun…it’s work and work sucks.
I do a number of things when I realize that I am obsessing about a story. I can usually tell when I am over thinking it all when I begin to go over and over the same line or scene rewriting it 50 or more times because it just-doesn’t-sound-right. I know that you all just want to finish the damn book but I have heard stories of writers who over think too much and end up not publishing a thing. At some point you have to more on and stop trying to polish a hole in the page.
So how do you stop over thinking? Here are some ideas…feel free to add more in the comments section.
- Put down the pen mam’ and step away from the desk – Breaks are essential to any good writing. While it feels like we could just sit and do it forever, we really shouldn’t. Take a break.
- Put it away for a while – Put that manuscript on a time out. Stick it in a drawer for a predetermined amount of time and then come back to it. Sometimes, like good wine – it just needs to breathe.
- Read to a friend – This often works for me. I grab the part I am stuck on and run to my favorite reader and biggest fan…my spouse. Trust me, if it sounds like bird poop, they will tell me.
- Retype the previous 4 pages – I have tried this and if actually worked. Sometimes as writers we simply loose our rhythm. Rewriting will run us right up to where we are stuck and hopefully over the hump.
- Put a bullet in it – I know that this is extreme but I have been working on manuscripts that just were never going to get finished because I have either lost my passion for the story or it just wasn’t meant to be. It’s okay once in a while to just file a manuscript in the round file marked crap-I-shouldn’t-have-started-in-the-first-place.
These are just a few suggestions; I know that other writers also have ideas. The thing to remember is that every writer has this problem. The thing to figure out is are you going to let it stop you all together or can you simply move on?
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