When it comes to my personal writing, I’m usually working on several pieces of fiction at once. All of my writing is important to me, of course, but some stories are more important than others. It doesn’t mean I value the others any less. It just means that I feel a stronger sense of urgency about these stories, or I have a deeper connection to them. You know how it is.
I’ve been working on one of these extra-important stories for over a year now. A dear friend of mine has patiently listened to me talk about it and answered many of my questions. The other day, I told her that I’d finally got one of the characters and several scenes figured out.
“That’s really great,” she said, “but you’ve been spending a long time getting this story right instead of writing something new.”
Now, taken out of context, it might sound like my friend was being dismissive, but I can assure you that she wasn’t. She’s always been helpful and supportive, and she was also absolutely correct. I had been obsessing over getting this story right and worrying about every little detail. And here’s the kicker – hardly anyone was going to read it! This story will be shared with maybe five friends. Maybe. And that’s it. Yet here I am, fussing over every single aspect.
If you’re also an overthinker, then you know exactly why I was worrying about every little detail. We have to get things right. We insist on the words exactly matching the images in our heads and the emotions in our hearts. Our writing means something to us. We can’t simply dash something off and call it a day. No, it needs to be high quality or nothing.
The way I see it, overthinking is the flip side of our commitment to quality. We care about what we write and we want to do our best. This is pretty admirable! We simply get caught up in thinking rather than taking action. That’s all.
So here is a gentle reminder for both you and me: let’s loosen our hold, just a little bit. This might involve taking a short break or working on something new for a while. Or it could mean taking a step back, reviewing what we’ve done and being completely honest about our progress.
Then let’s go and do some writing. No overthinking, just writing. Allow the words to flow instead of forcing them into a pre-determined shape. Trust that the words know what they’re doing, and that they’ll get themselves just right, without too much fussing from us.
This week’s prompts
Use the following prompts to start a new piece, continue an existing one, or to just have fun with words.
1. The air conditioner flew further than any air conditioner had flown before.
2. A delicate petal floated…
3. If you could be a cloud for just one day, upon whom would you target your rainfall and why?
4. The bell jingled, signalling the…
5. The fluffy ball shot over the fence and…
Questions? Suggestions? Feel free to drop me a line at email@example.com.