Last updated on February 3, 2017
I often get a chance to talk to other authors, those just starting out or getting back in the saddle like I am now. I also get a chance to talk to those who write all the time, and one thing is true of nearly all of them: they write from the heart.
It doesn’t matter your genre, or how much or how little you write. From memoirs to nearly any other story, writers write from their heart. Most of us simply cannot help us. A little bit of who we are becomes a part of every story we put words too, whether it is in our journal and never sees the light of day or it becomes a bestseller everyone is reading on Amazon.
It’s pretty scary to put your heart out there. That is the reason almost every negative review affects an author so deeply—so deeply as a matter of fact that many of my author friends never read reviews of their own work. Sure it is courteous to thank every reviewer good or bad for at least taking the time to read your work, but sometimes the negative ones can send you into a tailspin it’s harder to pull out of than the flat spin Goose and Maverick were stuck in.
True it might be healthier to face those fears and overcome what other people might think of your work, and realize it isn’t personal and your type of writing may not be for everyone. Those words are easier to write than to live by, and although I say them I have a harder time swallowing them when the one-star review is next to one of my own titles.
However the fact that writing from the heart is so essential for writing to be genuine and reach others where they live, there are a few things I have said before, but that hold true for every work of fiction.
First drafts should be written quickly.
A first draft of a novel should be written within six to nine months maximum. Why? Think of who you were just a year ago, now two years. If you are a healthy person, you are growing and maturing, and as you do your heart changes.
If it takes you too long to write a draft, your heart changes in the middle, and when you go back to read and edit it, you will see that change. So will your reader if you do not fix things in the revision process, which leads to my second point.
Edits and Revisions should be completed quickly.
Three passes with an editor and one with a proofreader will catch most of the errors in your books. In some cases, mistakes will slip through, and although it is ideal to have an error free manuscript, doing so is almost impossible. Even the best authors and editors working as a team let errors get past them.
A perfect book is probably a dead book. If the grammar, spelling, and every other aspect is perfect, your author voice has probably been silenced and the story is likely pretty dull. People read your work to hear your voice, to get a new perspective on life in general. An over edited book probably lacks the very things readers are looking for.
This is not to say that you should not hire a professional editor and have your work proofread thoroughly. It just means than if there are a few mistakes, but the story is still excellent, readers will be more forgiving.
Let your book go after a reasonable effort. No book is ever done, it is just released into the world. If you hold it too long, your heart will change, and you will revise your work to reflect that change. Then realistically the editing process must be started over again.
Writer’s block is a heart problem.
I often get booed when I am around writers and tell them I don’t believe in writer’s block. If you write for a living, that is like a waiter having waiter’s block. If a waiter cannot wait tables that day, they go home and do not get paid. Pretty quickly they have to get over that issue and do their job.
You are a writer. Putting words together is your job. You can choose to work on other projects, do another type of writing, but you are not allowed to stop. If you are experiencing writer’s block, or what you think is writer’s block, check your heart. What is keeping your mind from communicating well with your heart? What is between them?
As a writer, you must work to remove these things. There are a few things that work for me, and might for you as well:
- Exercise: Get out and run, ride your bike, hike, or lift weights. Let your mind focus on your body and what it needs to do for a while. It may just help reset your muse.
- Meditation: Meditation is much like exercise. You cannot do it well unless you practice. So practice. Whether you use guided meditation or are advanced enough you can reach an empty minded state on your own, work at setting the conscious things weighing your mind down to the side. Concentrate on now rather than the past or future, This will help your heart reset so you can write effectively again.
- Talk to Someone: Every writer goes through more productive and less productive periods, and each has their own form of motivation and resetting their heart. Ask someone more experienced than you what they do, and try different things.
- Keep writing: By moving to a different project or journaling, you allow your muse to tap into and empty your heart, making room for it to be filled again. Journaling can be especially helpful in this case.
Writer’s block is only a problem if you let it be one, and is really a heart problem, so when you try to combat it, check your heart first.
No matter what you write and when you write it, you write from the heart. Before your heart changes, get that draft down on paper. Get the words out. And before you heart changes again, get your work revised and share it. Don’t use writer’s block as an excuse: fix your heart and move on.
Your readers will thank you. So will all of those who have to deal with you every day.