It’s important to develop strong decision-making skills when writing a novel. As a writer we have many decisions to make when writing our stories. For our characters we have to figure out names, color of hair and eyes, and flaws and strengths. We also have to figure out where they live, where they work, who they will clash with and whom they will love. Do they have a large family or small? And what was their family life like?
Many important pieces that, like a puzzle, connect together to create a strong story. And portray characters our readers can relate to. So, it’s very important for us to get it ‘right’.
But what does right, mean?
And what can we do if we get it wrong?
See, in the past, my own fear of getting it wrong, prevented me from moving forward. And I had a hard time making decisions, especially not knowing if they would work or not. And not having answers made it difficult to write my story.
When I first started this novel-writing journey, I would save every word cut and paste it in another file. I was terrified to erase an idea or phrase. What if I couldn’t come up with something better? Or I forgot the idea I originally came up with? I found myself unable to know how to make the right decisions.
And then I couldn’t make up my mind if I wanted my heroine to be sassy or shy. Or what she even should look like.
Part of this was because I had never done this before. Another part of it was my own lack of decision-making skills. I needed to figure out how to become a strong decision maker and fast.
I’ve since learned I just have to make decisions, but that they can change if I need them to. It’s better to have a direction, than no direction at all.
Also taking workshops from other writers has helped me learn a variety of ways to approach the writing process. Yes, some of the decisions are still pulled out of thin air. You have to start somewhere! But I’ve since learned how to think through these points when writing.
I’ve also learned that I don’t have to save the words. Now I can trust myself to come up with new content that still fits my story. I’ve also learned that sometimes it’s better to start over with a new way of writing a scene. This decision has helped me try different approaches rather than adding patches and bandaids. And the practice has allowed me to apply new techniques I’ve learned in recent classes.
Now I can say with pride that I can rewrite my opening a 7th time and still survive!
A word that comes to mind when I think about this – everything we do in writing our stories is redeemable.
Did you know all the other words linked to redeemable in the thesaurus?
Rectifiable, improvable, restorable, fixable, reparable
Do you know what this means? Our writing is not permanent and frozen with the first things we write. It can evolve and grow and improve.
That’s huge encouragement to me.
So I can decide away, and then redeem what works. I don’t have to make ALL the decisions final each step of the way. There’s room for change and room for me to make strong decisions with each layer of edits I do.
This change in mindset has allowed me to change scenes completely and try them in a new way. Because, if I didn’t like it, I can change it back, or try again. It might mean more work, but that’s okay.
This is because the hard work isn’t what scares me, it’s the fear of not getting it right. There are so many different ways to put a phrase together!
I wrote a post Facing your Fear and I think I need to reread it every once in a while. I’ve come a long way in my writing, but my fears still can get in the way of my goals. And I’m not about to let my fears stop me now.
That’s why I wrote my blog post on Listing out Your Accomplishments. When I track the things I have accomplished, it helps me face my fear. Which in turn helps me make better decisions going forward. It’s like each decision I make, encourages me to make more.
I’ve come a long way from saving every word I cut and not knowing what I want for my characters. Now I sometimes try out a scene a completely different way just to see it from a distinct angle. And then I can redeem the words that work the best from either version.
Do you have areas that are difficult for you to decide on?
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