So I took a little detour with my reading this month. I've been doing a lot of nonfiction reading lately. One day my sis, Dani Wade, sent me a text: "Go get this book!" The book? Writer's Doubt: The #1 Enemy of Writing (and What You Can Do About It) by Bryan Hutchinson. And you know what? She was 100% right.
I've been talking a little bit more openly about the struggles I've had with writer's block. I think the prevalence of so many writers who poo-poo the idea of writer's block only serves to make those of us who have experienced doubt ourselves more. And that doubt only serves to compound the probem. We who struggle in this area have to learn not only to tune out the naysayers and root out the sources of our blocks, but we also have to combat the doubt that can creep in.
Writer's Doubt begins with Bryan's story of how he came to be a writer. One of the things I love is that Bryan says something in the beginning of the book that I've come to realize myself over time:
...if we keep our stories, our feelings and our experiences hidden inside of us, it is much more difficult to heal and find answers. So many people remain secretive, so secretive that they’re never able to actually seek help for their internal conflicts. If you want to be honest with your readers and yourself, put everything on the page and leave your comfort zone behind.
Now, this is probably targeted toward nonfiction writers, but as a romance writer, I've found that a lot of the emotions I've experienced over time tend to come out on the page. Not as exact experiences, and not as a one-to-one translation, but they do come out. Take Me began with the idea of a mother who lost her child. I also lost a child, not the way Peyton did -- her child was kidnapped; mine died -- but I found myself thinking of those emotions, drawing them out like you would draw out poison, as I put words to the page. Facing our past helps us heal, and writing can help us do that, whatever form it takes.
Of course, the book isn't just about emotions and memories. It's full of tons of practical advice. Ways to write when you're blocked (notebooks, journals, nonwriting options), where to write. The section on writing rituals and getting into the writing zone reminded me I'd sort of abandoned that part of my early writing career when I got bogged down in a year's worth of edits. Practical advice on not only writing but publishing what you write. There is a lot of meat here, not just fluff.
My favorite piece of advice?
Your first draft is not crap no matter how far from perfect it might be.
There really is a ton of great things not just to learn but to really think about as you read this book. I'm not going to tell you any more. You need to go get it and learn for yourself, explore for yourself, consider things you never really considered about yourself. You'll come out the other side with a whole new outlook. :)