Hello everyone. Cate here. I want to talk about some wonderful writing advice today. Writing with Joy!
I love to listen to authors talk about writing.
One of the few benefits that came out of the pandemic was the plethora of opportunities to see authors interviewed online. Many bookstores, libraries, authors or groups of authors started doing FB Live series or You Tube series. I'd be lying if I said I haven't spent more than a few (hundred?) hours down the YouTube rabbit hole hopping from one interview to another.
Several of those interviews were with #1 NY Times Bestselling author Louise Penny. If you've never had the chance to listen to her speak, I highly recommend you give it a try. I'd never read any of her Inspector Gamache books before, but I was so intrigued by her that I pulled Still Life out of my TBR pile.
But that's not what I wanted to share. I wanted to share some advice she gave in several of the interviews I watched.
The background is that following a career in journalism, and an unsuccessful attempt to write a novel accompanied by a case of writer's block, Ms. Penny took stock of what was in her TBR pile and realized she was quite fond of crime novels. So she made the decision to try her hand at that. I think that's probably not unlike the way many of us ventured into the genres we write in.
But it was what came next that I want to share today. Her agent got her a 3 book deal. That meant she had to write the second book in a year. Fearing a recurrence of writer's block, she saw a therapist. It is that therapist's advise that Ms. Penny so willingly passes along "for what it's worth to emerging writers." I daresay any writer would find it worth a listen.
Her therapist told her that the problem was "The wrong person is writing the book. Your critic is writing the book."
That really struck a nerve with me, because I am my own worst enemy each time I start a book. That imposter syndrome takes over, and I wonder why I ever thought I could do this. Yes, my critic is writing the book - or more aptly, she is preventing me from writing it.
So, this is the advice, per Ms. Penny's therapist:
"You need to thank the critic. You need to bless the critic. You need to show the critic the door!"
I love that! It feels so proactive.
She warns not to be mean to the critic, don't lock the door, because the time will come that you need that voice, need that inner critic. But for now, (and this part is from Louise Penny) "our creative soul... needs the freedom to write ...with freedom, with gratitude that you have food in the fridge and no one is trying to kill you. Just write." And, she said, that is what she does now with the first draft, and she recommends we do the same - write with joy.
It sounds so easy, and I know from experience it isn't. But it's worth fighting to reclaim that joy. If you also have a noisy inner critic, send her on vacation. And while she's gone, find that joy that made you first want to write. Find that inner joy that resonates when you are doing what you love. Forget the business (for that first draft) and write for the joy of creating.
And let me know how it goes.
I'd love to hear from you today. Is that inner critic stealing your joy, or are you stronger than that? Can you feel that joy of creating, taste the bliss of unleashing your dreams? Are you ready to show that critic the door?
This is not the interview I was quoting above, but she repeats the same advice here.