Our first instincts are to protect, always.
We protect our ego. We protect our homes. We protect our positions, our opinions, our time, our money and our sense well-being.
As writers, this screws us up in major ways.
WE PROTECT OUR ORIGINAL IDEAS
Without realizing it, our ideas come to us in response to some personal lesson we are trying to overcome. Because change is scary, and changing our lives can be even scarier, we protect our original world view. Our idea came from the change we want to make but our instinct is to not make that change. We think that the original idea was whispered to us from the Gods and is immutable. Really, it isn’t. Usually, it’s a lazy idea.
Do the hard work and figure out what change your subconscious is trying to make. Allow your story to reflect that. Allow your original idea to morph into something great.
WE PROTECT OUR TIME
We are wired to take the shortcut. We don’t really want to take the time to plot things out, understand our characters, do good research or get it right, so we dive right in. We copy, we get rich off someone else’s idea.
The harder work is admitting life is long and we can spare a moment to tweak and refine.
It’s okay to take your time.
WE PROTECT OUR WORK
Adversely, one can become too much of a perfectionist. If you have been tweaking a novel for four to five years, you fall into this trap. The novel may be terrible, but you don’t realize you are making it terrible on purpose so you can keep tweaking for ten years until finally, it’s ready!
What you will find out is that no matter how much tweaking you do, how perfect you make it, they will hate it anyway. They will call it average, boring, too complicated. ”
There is no perfect and there is no protection against the lashing. Your work will receive a beating. Expect it. Embrace it.
WE PROTECT OUR MAIN CHARACTERS
Our main characters are ourselves. Every time.
You may think this person was patterned after your old college roommate, but you’re wrong. Its you.
Don’t protect yourself through words. This is the time where you can be as brash, bold, stupid or ignorant as you secretly want to be.
Write about what makes you very angry. Make your main character do that.
Write about what you are terrified might happen. Make your main character do that.
Write about how things might go wrong. Make it your characters fault.
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