Today I’m going to discuss a couple of prime culprits responsible for holding back writers from doing their best work. Most applicable to novice writers, but let’s walk through it and remind ourselves the wrong way of doing it.
The most effective story you ever write is the one you don’t write at all… the one you allow the story to write for you.
Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch touched on it when he said “Murder your darlings,” famously paraphrased years later by Stephen King, “Kill your darlings.” If refers to of course, having the objectivity to edit away the pieces of fiction you’re in love with, but really aren’t necessary for the narrative.
Ultimately, Quiller-Couch and King are talking about inflexibility; an unwillingness to change or compromise. And today I speak of it more generally than merely editing back parts of the narrative that don’t work… but rather, having the flexibility to write the pieces that do work, in the first place.
Approaching writing rigidly, with a distinct unwavering image in your mind, creates an environment where you’re trying to find (and often force) pieces to fit the puzzle.
Where as writing from a flexible mindset, allows the story to unfold, as you may here often, naturally or organically. Creating the puzzle as you go along, the story takes on a life of it’s own.
I always tell folks think of your job as a writer like a conductor of a symphony. It’s not your job to play every instrument, but to select the arrangement (choose what the story will express) and direct all the instruments toward that expression.