Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sometimes you've just got to throw caution to the wind

We all get stuck every once in a while. It’s bound to happen in any walk of life, but especially in endeavours that require a bit more thought. Usually a little bit of downtime and a nice cup of tea sorts things out, but sometimes we just can’t dislodge ourselves so easily.

You can do what I usually do. You can sit down and have a think and let your stuck-ness depress you until kick a kitten* or two** and you feel better.

Or you can fold your arms behind your back and jump over the precipice.

Writing can be tricky business at the best of times, and we all have our own different styles. Some people like to outline every last little thing and then expand their bullets into prose. Some people are such über pantsers you can’t help but wonder just how they do anything. And some of us try to find some sort of middle ground between the two.

Sometimes, though, when you’re stuck, sticking to your usual routines will just exacerbate the situation. Sometimes you’ve just got to throw caution into the wind and hope you come through mostly unharmed.

This can mean piling into the back of an Austin Maestro with a group of your friends and going on a road trip until there just isn’t any more road to follow.

It could mean forgetting about your outline for a minute and just typing the first words that pop into your mind, no matter how bad or disjointed they may seem compared to the rest of the narrative.

Or it could mean setting aside your current project for a little while and trying something new.

Sometimes, your mind does not know what is best for you. Sometimes you’ve got to learn to ignore that little voice and trust your stomach, or the Fates, or whatever else.

It’s important to not turn off the voice, however. There’s a reason it exists, and sometimes when it tells you not to turn up at your friend’s at two in the morning to let them know you love them, it has a very good point. You just have to learn to distinguish between when the voice needs ignoring, and when it may be worth heeding.

Ultimately, a story is not yours. It is its own being. Trust it and it will deliver you to the appropriate end, no matter what your best judgments may say.

*Don’t actually kick a kitten. That’s mean.
**Don’t kick two kittens either. That’s just doubly mean.

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