All month long I have been fighting my writing. In my heart, I knew something wasn’t right with this latest book, but I could not figure out what it was. I hate that. After all, I had carefully plotted the book and was happy with both the plot and the characters. Or was I?
By asking myself some questions, I got a glimmer of what was bothering me.
I didn’t want to kill off my intended victim. I’d grown to like her. And because I didn’t want to bump her off, my scenes were suffering and my pacing was off. I was going to the computer each morning practically kicking and screaming. And procrastinating about murdering her on the page. Of course, I didn’t know that that was what I was doing.
But once I figured out that I didn’t want to kill her, I had to figure out what to do.
Was this just a whim on my part, or did she really have a place in the story other than as the murder victim?
When I’m in a dilemma like this, I don’t do anything rash. I turn it over to the characters. So I posed the question to them and asked them to come up with reasons for her to stay among the living.
And they came through.
I woke up the next morning and the answer was clear. She gets to live. And the characters (or my subconscious) came up with all of the answers. I knew why she had to live. I knew who had to die in her place. And I knew what plot complications I could make based on letting her live. I was delighted. The story was going to be better than ever.
What if I’d ignored that nagging feeling? I would have continued to write. That’s a given. But I would not have enjoyed the process. The book would have been completed, but I have a feeling it would have been flat. I wouldn’t have been happy with it. And ultimately the reader wouldn’t have been either.
I’ve learned to pay attention to those “something isn’t right here” feelings – whether they’re with my writing or with other aspects of my life.
We are amazing creatures. We know more than we think we know. But we need to train ourselves to tune into the things that we know but routinely don’t listen to or ignore.
Inner feelings are there for a reason. Sometimes they steer us wrong. But frequently they have merit. Be still and listen to what your body is telling you about your writing, your hobby, your health, your relationship, your whatever.
We’re always so busy doing that often we forget to just sit and be. The answers are always there. We just need to listen.
Are you listening to your inner voice today?