As you all know, I’ve been working on my steampunk project Chroniker City for some time now. I finished the fourth chapter last week, and I aim to finish the fifth in a few days. While perusing the internet and the many blogs I follow, I find that I’m ignoring a lot of posts that I would usually read. Posts on legacy publishing are right out since such does not pertain to me anymore, but I’m ignoring writing related posts as well – posts on how to develop characters, on how to write a gripping plot, on how to revising and editing, and so on so forth.
I have a reason, of course. I don’t have the most confidence in the world when it comes to my writing. I constantly doubt my own words. I have an immeasurable abundance of paranoia about my characters and plot. It takes reassurance from friends and my husband to keep the doubt at bay. So, when I don’t have them at hand to tell me how awesome I am, I tend to turn toward the wisdom of the internet.
I read posts on character development and think Did I do that? I don’t think my main character is developed enough according to this. Maybe I should tweak her personality. There, now she reads like this blogger says she should.
I read posts on openings. Is my opening gripping enough? Do I grab the reader’s attention? It reads a bit boring. I should throw an explosion in there; that will get them. This blogger likes explosions, so I know that’s the right way to do it.
I read posts on plot development. Do I have too many subplots? Is my main plot strong enough? Does the need of my main character come across in the first chapter? Maybe I should spell it out. I need to take out this subplot because it only sort of deals with the conflict of the main plot. I need to rewrite the plot completely. There isn’t enough conflict. I should add government conspiracy and time travel because this blogger thinks plots with conspiracy and time travel make for the best stories.
I read posts on antagonists. Who is my antagonist? Is ‘society’ not a strong enough antagonist? Should I personify the antagonist? That doesn’t really fit the story I want to tell, but I guess I should add a dark lord in there somewhere to add conflict… because this random blogger told me to.
It’s one thing to read books on craft and another completely to read the opinions of the internet. Even still, I don’t read books on craft when I’m in the process of writing. I stopped reading blog posts on craft while writing. Why? Because I read what they have to say and think that what I have written is not good enough. I tweak and change and edit until the story turns into this conglomeration of a monster that isn’t my story. It becomes a product of second-guessing, paranoia, and doubt.
So, while writing Chroniker City, I’m avoiding blog posts about writing, because if I don’t, the doubt will grow to a monstrous size and I’ll lose all motivation and enthusiasm for the book. That’s what happened with my first novel. It grew out of my control.
I want to know how you all handle reading blogs or books on craft while writing. Do you read about writing craft before, during, or after a writing project? How do you handle what you’ve read?