Hi folks, I'm continuing my series on pitfalls. This week I'm going to talk about a real pitfall for writers with a term that is generally associated with sports. You know, choking, a team is ahead and the star player just seems to fall apart on the field for no apparent reason and the game is lost. Writers have a similar problem. Choking is collapsing to the pressure of writing. It's hard to put yourself out there. It exposes your inner most self. A big pitfall for writers is to squander your talent and hard work on a "choke."
To me, choking is all about a "paralysis of analysis." A writer becomes wrapped up in an unreasonable quantity of analysis that overwhelms them. She find herself incapable of making the necessary cuts and revisions to make her work shine. All the writing is good, she thinks. She can't take any of this out. She can't move any of this around. She can't add that big new part. Moreover, she goes over and over her first chapter, countless times paralyzed by the need to make that chapter perfect and somehow always coming up short. She reads writing books adding even more advice to the mix. She seeks the feedback of dozens and dozens of colleagues but never fully taking any of the advice, unsure because all the advice contradicts and she is unsure who has offered the best advice. Or she might try to implement all the advice and find that her purpose of writing the piece has become muddy and finds the work is a train wreck. The writer may become anxious and depressed. She begins to think of her lost writing dreams and how she is forever barred from success. It's self-fulfilling though, because she has "over thought" and "over complicated" what writing a book is all about.
Oh, yeah, folks, I have been here. Thankfully the fix is easy. One, kick back one day and reread a favorite book. You see, people can write books. You can do this too. Next, you have to really cut back the amount of information used to help you make revision decisions. You pick the three best colleagues advice and you don't listen to advice from anyone else. This will help stop the choking. Now, stop micro-managing yourself. I mean it. Loosen up and trust your GIFT. The love of writing, your love of story, your love of words, I mean this has been going on for a long while, trust that you were born to do this. Monitoring your every move in writing is making your work ponderous, choppy and uninspired. Finally, consider putting away all your work and start something from scratch, to alleviate the emotional baggage. Deliever a NEW product -- yes, books are products shot through a delivery pipe line with defined actionable steps like a set number of drafts with deadlines, limited expert feedback, and a definite cut-off for completion. (You wonder why NANOWRIMO is popular -- it's freeing up choking authors by giving them a deadline that doesn't allow for too much analysis.) After you find some success with the new product, return to choked work and move it through the delivery pipeline to readers
I hope this helps you with your work. I hope that you find great success.
Here is the doodle: "The very big array."
Here is this week's quote. A good one to help move forward.
Be unselfish. That is the first and final commandment for those who would be useful and happy in their usefulness. If you think of yourself only, you cannot develop because you are choking the source of development, which is spiritual expansion through thought for others. Charles William Eliot