The Writer's Desk

Writing, publishing & marketing notes from Jamie DeBree & her alter egos

Originality & Finding My Voice

I haven’t been doing much writing lately. It’s not that I don’t want to, but I’m still having trouble getting back into the habit. Part of that is growing pains…I guess it falls into the category of self-doubt, but it’s more than that. It’s the fact that I know I’m missing something (or rather, my writing is), and I want very badly to find and fix it so I can…well, be better.

So, whenever I hit a night that I just can’t make myself open a draft, I’ve been watching Dean Wesley Smith’s “Originality” series on Youtube. It’s one of his classic workshops, it’s available for free, and it makes me severely uncomfortable, though not in the way he seems to think most people will be. It makes me uncomfortable because I hear what he’s saying, and I’m really starting to see what’s missing when I write, I just…don’t quite know how to pull what I need to pull out of the creative part of my brain to fill in those missing pieces.

I’m also struggling with rich, descriptive prose vs. “purple” prose, and where the line is between the two. Purple prose, I can do (and my creative brain will happily skip down that road with little prodding). Keeping it descriptive but not purple is…well, I’m just not sure how to do that. Yet.

I keep reminding myself that writing is a process, and I will never be as good as I want to be, but I need to just keep practicing (read: actually writing) and eventually if I keep listening and thinking about what I need to do and where I need to be, I’ll eventually be able to actually “do” the thing(s) I need to do and my characters and writing will be that much richer for it.

And then there will be another thing I’m not happy with, that I’ll need to fix, and the cycle continues…and that is why I do this – because my mind loves a good puzzle, and a good challenge, and writing is both.

As Dean says, I need to get out of my own way. It’s not the writing that’s killing me, it’s the thought of publishing books that aren’t good. Stories that won’t hook people. Bland, sterilized writing (because I do tend to be a technical perfectionist when dialog isn’t involved, and that results in bland writing – I need to get over that).

Dialog, I’m pretty good at (I think). It’s the stuff around it that needs the most work. And I think, if I work through some more of these videos, that I can get better.

Which is the “hope” I was missing before. I’d kind of gotten to the point where I wasn’t sure I could ever get any better, and what if my best was never going to be good enough? But these videos are starting to help me move past that. Most nights, I feel like writing after, and the only thing that stops me is the lateness of the hour. Damn my need for sleep…

In any case, Dean has two classic workshops up on YouTube, and then more on his site that are paid, but you get to work directly with Dean on the assignments, which I think would be a great help to me. They aren’t cheap, but I’m planning to save up and take at least one this fall, and then another in the winter.

In the meantime, I’ll take these free ones and work to incorporate them into my writing as much as possible.

Maybe I’ll even get moving on the drafts I have open again…

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