Kristen Lamb writes in her blog about self-sabotage. I found many things in this post that sound awfully familiar to me and I’m grateful Kristen made me realize what I’m doing and that this isn’t healthy for me and my writing. Thank you very much Kristen.
There are SO many reasons why being a professional author is TOUGH. Much of what authors do is counter to human nature. It is NOT natural to sit still and write a 100,000 words. It’s human nature to avoid stress, pain, and trauma, while an author’s job is to inflict as much suffering as possible.
Good writers are death dealers, anguish agents, and pain peddlers (which probably is why we freak ‘normal’ people out). Yet, we know torment is necessary for the greater good. A ‘story’ without seemingly unbeatable odds, terrifying stakes, and white-knuckled tension isn’t a story.
It’s self-indulgent tripe.
The ultimate objective of any author worth their ink cartridges is to create so much pressure we might just give our readers the bends.
Yet, this is not ‘natural.’ It is also not simple. There is nothing about being an author that is easy, and thing is?
Most of us fear we don’t have what it takes.
We’re also terrified to admit this. So what do we do? We become our own worst enemies and self-sabotage. And, since writers generally are smart, we self-sabotage in ways that appear to be REAL work to the untrained eye.
Thus, today, we’re going to discuss some of the clever ways writers self-sabotage. Since I’ve been guilty of ALL of these (because I’m a ridiculous overachiever), I can speak from experience. When it comes to self-sabotage, I would have been top of the class…but didn’t study for the final until the night before.
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Kristen Lamb teaches us about Character building. Thanks so much for this lesson, Kristen. I’m still working on that.
I put in a lot of work and study when it comes to honing my writing skills. This means I’m always searching for ways to become a stronger author and craft teacher. Want to get better at anything? Look to those who are the best at what they do and pay close attention.
This said, wanting to deepen my understanding of drama, I enrolled in David Mamet’s on-line course for Dramatic Writing (which has been superlative). In one of the lessons, Mamet said something that challenged my thinking regarding characters.
I won’t directly relay what his assertion was because it’s very much a class worth taking, and I’d hate to spoil it for anyone. Regardless, his commentary regarding character creation made me extremely uncomfortable.
At first, I balked. Big time. Challenging ideas do that.
I thought, Yes, well Mamet’s referring to stage and screen. With written fiction we have narrative. Actors don’t possess this.
Which IS true, yet Mamet’s unconventional opinion stopped me long enough to give his angle some serious consideration. Did his assessment relate to our sort of fiction?
Written form stories hold some major advantages, the largest of those being internal narration. The audience knows what’s going on in the head of the character (or can believe they know).
On stage or screen, it’s up to the actors’ abilities to accurately portray the internal, which is a tough order. It’s also why if a book is made into a movie, watch the movie first.
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Author Kristen Lamb writes about conflict and why it’s important for our stories. Thank you very much Kristen. I’m learning so much reading your blog and I’m convinced I’m not the only one.
Conflict is the core ingredient required for story. It is the magical elixir with the raw power to transform a story we think we’ve heard a million times before into something wholly unique and mesmerizing. FYI, there are no new stories, only new ways of telling the same stories. Just getting that out of the way.
A Thousand Acres is basically King Lear on an Iowa farm, and Avatar is Pocahontas in Space. I could give a zillion more examples but won’t.
In fairness, this makes our job simpler. We really don’t want to create a story no one has ever heard before. Not only because it’s pretty much impossible to do in the first place, but it’s also highly risky even if we managed to pull it off. Why?
Because the story ‘never before told’ cannot possibly resonate emotionally. Humans have no emotional touchpoint for something they’ve never experienced…ever.
Resonance is Critical
Love gone wrong? Betrayal? Messed up family? Righting wrongs of the past? Clearing one’s name from being falsely accused? Rebuilding after a loss? Finally earning approval, love, or acceptance? Impacts of abuse or addiction?
This stuff we get.
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