The Writing Process of a Former Perfectionist

Photo Vintage Typewriter 2 by David AsheOkay, maybe “former perfectionist” is more optimistic than accurate: I continue to struggle with perfectionism, sometimes daily. And my Inner Critic tends to resurface whenever I’m working on tasks for a client, especially a newsletter article or blog post.

Imagine my surprise when A CLIENT mentioned that writing always took her longer than planned. “I can’t write 500 words in less than three hours without sacrificing quality,” she said. It was obvious she too struggled with perfectionism. So I shared with her my process (below) which she now uses and loves.

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How to Handle Negative Criticism

Photo Tree in green rain by Rune SpaansMy Tuesday must be having an identity crisis and thinks it’s a Monday because today is every bit as busy as yesterday. Whew! There’s more work on my schedule than hours in the day but no complaints here — mama needs to get the car into a mechanic, call the plumber and visit the dentist. But in between meetings, all of which ran over their allotted time, I realized the level of negative criticism that surrounds me – both internal and external – is a huge roadblock in my journey.

To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.

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Goals for 2010 – The First Nine Months

It’s amazing how much can be learned in just nine months if you’re a willing student and possess the ability to perform an honest self-evaluation.

Last week’s post, Failure Is Not an Option; It’s a Necessity, discussed commitment to forward motion no matter how many check marks accumulate under the “Fail” column on my list of goals for 2010. The comments – both on the blog and via e-mail – were fabulous.

And very much appreciated!

However, I found myself wondering why so many readers responded with “Don’t give up!” or “Never quit” – as if my confessed failures would dissuade me. It was then I realized some people were under the impression sharing my failures meant I would consider quitting or giving up. Continue reading Goals for 2010 – The First Nine Months

WIP Update: Buzzards – Too Much of a Twist?

I told y’all how great Buzzards is coming along, right? Yeah, so, I have a concern and I don’t know if it should be a concern. Or if it’s just my inner critic attempting to censor my muse. Or if it’s a concern best handled during revision. Here’s the situation:

For the past few months I didn’t know, not on a conscious level anyway, what the big twist would be in Buzzards. I had a couple of small ones worked out that I knew would relate to the big one but the details of the major twist eluded me until yesterday. Well it revealed itself, in a huge way, and while I love it, I’m worried it’s too much for most readers to stomach.

There are two concerns: First, I don’t want the twist to undo the bond between the reader and the female lead. Second, I don’t want the reader to be so turned off by the twist’s denotation, they put the book down and give up on the story. …continue reading

WIP Update: Buzzards and Wolf

Buzzards is coming along at a respectable pace. Well, that’s not entirely true; it’s coming faster than anything I’ve written before. There are about 20 handwritten pages I have to type up before I can update the WIP word counter on My Projects page, which is one of my goals for this weekend.

I never know how much to share about my work – part of me wonders if someone will borrow the idea and part of me wonders if someone will say they’ve never heard of a more absurd idea. Both thoughts are my inner critic, and he lives in a house built on fear; therefore, I do my best to ignore his misguided attempts to help and go on about my work as usual. But right now I’m not ready to share much more than this:

Buzzards is a horror / dark fantasy novel centered around a female lead and a dying race of shapeshifters. …continue reading

Attention: Inner Critic

I will no longer allow you to dictate my writing behavior. I will break the barriers and conquer my personal battle with perfectionism. I’ve taken the leap and enrolled in Holly Lisle’s How to Think Sideways writing course. Thus far, I’m finding it rather challenging to fit in the homework between my day job and my daughter.

I thought it might be easier to work through Holly’s exercises by trying out my first blog. Yay! It’s official: I’m up-to-date with the times; a cell phone in my purse and blog on the Net. This’ll be sort of an initiation into the possibility that strangers will inevitably read and reject my writing. I have yet to show anyone other than writing instructors (and one ex-boyfriend) my completed stories. The instructors were very encouraging; the boyfriend, not so much. That’s a long story better saved for a different post.

I named this blog, Unleash the Flying Monkeys! because I love fairy tales and fantasy type stories, and truly appreciate the imagination it takes to invent and write about such outlandish characters as flying monkeys. I want to embrace all my creative potential instead of stuffing myself into what I assume is my destined “genre”–horror.

Don’t get me wrong, I love horror stories, movies, photography, etc.. I am drawn to the dark and depressing aspects of the human mind and soul. However, I want to explore the many avenues of fairy tales, fantasy, supernatural and crime thrillers as well. I have idea after idea, many of which I lose forever simply because I’m too apathetic to grab a piece of paper and jot it down before it’s trashed by short-term memory overload.

I hope to master clustering and finish up my Sweet Spot Map very soon. Or, at least make more progress than a few doodles with the main thought just floating in the center, seemingly drowning in the empty white space, crying out for me to tie it to something, a single syllable word, anything besides the little black butterflies that look more like lumpy hearts, really. I’m a couple weeks behind many of my classmates, but writing is a very personal experience so I suppose the process of improving one’s writing is also quite personal.

Does your inner critic ever stand in the way of your creative progress?

I’ll end this post with one of my favorite writing quotes:

“Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” – Gloria Steinem