by Becky Jacoby
How often do I often shoot myself in the foot? When it comes to learning the craft of fiction writing…too often. I push myself hard. Suddenly, I think I am a Replicator, an Ancient or have special powers. That I ought to learn at light-speed just because I ache to. Why can’t my desire to learn faster and write better rev my brain and transform my keystrokes?
Maybe you never have had trouble being patient. Maybe words come easily, smoothly and efficiently for you. Or maybe you are a little like me.
Sadly, I am not one of those fortunate ones who can fabricate a plot from a spark in a few hours. Nor can I spill riveting dialogue onto a page without excruciating thought and processing. After all, I am an IFTJ “Counselor” (..Thank you, Jeff Gerke and Please Understand Me II, a super resource for character profiling). So, I need time and therapeutic self-conversation to get to know a character and how she would react to the handsome hunk that plays on her sympathy but secretly wants to assault her for every time his mom embarrassed him.
I have discovered I am a big picture person who needs to fill in the brushstrokes later. Getting details right means real work. I moan a bit, maybe pop two Excedrin® then hunker down. Occasionally, I wrap my patience in some dark chocolate or an oatmeal raisin cookie and bite off a chunk.
My seat is in-chair and I write, write, write so I can learn, learn, learn. The more experience I glean, the more I understand, and, remarkably, next time, I struggle less to be patient.
I relish opportunities to receive feedback. More feedback accumulates, I have found, when I conclude a story before I should, when I have failed to pay enough attention to the details. Yet, I appreciate the critiques and suggestions. With the help of the feedback I am led to see my characters in greater detail. I discover portions that need development, gaps that require transitions, and dialogue that needs tweaking.
I will always value advice from my peers. I am grateful to have participated in a mentored writing program (Thank you, Chila Woychik and Lisa Lickel).
Patience…the process is the process, I am reminded. As a lifetime student, I will grow with each attempt, but I also desire to see my mistakes more quickly. Despite “duh” moments, I continue to cultivate this craft. I’ve even submitted some short stories, and am blessed to have had one published. In fact, I ambitiously hope to parlay my latest paranormal piece into a novel.
Like me, if you, too, wish to learn faster, there’s hope. Just keep writing.
Meanwhile, I will patiently move my sore foot out of the way.
Becky Jacoby writes for many online and print venues: consumer and trade magazines, business blogs, e-books, and promotional publications. In addition to completing her first speculative fiction work, she is compiling an anthology of dog rescue stories. She resides in coastal North Carolina with hubby Bob and two rescued dogs.
I can be pretty impatient with my self, although, as you say, it’s a matter of training self not to be. I keep saying, “Stick to the goal, but be gentle with yourself.” In other words, I try not to waste time beating myself up for a failure. Just get up and get going again. Hope things to well with your new venture, Becky.
ps it’s pre-breakfast and I can’t quite get that oatmeal raisin cookie out of my mind….
Thank you so much for this post! This is how I have been feeling lately – impatient with myself, knowing I have lots to learn and wishing I could do it faster. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one!
You are doing the right thing! You have so amazed me at how you’ve grown since I saw your first piece. Patience is one thing – practice is another, and you got it! And chocolate always helps.
Thanks, Ladies, for your empathy. Glad to know I’m not alone. And Lisa, you have been a marvelous support and effective mentor. Without your guidance, I’d still be seeking the light switch. Kudos to you.
I’m going through the very same thing, Becky, so can definitely relate. And I’m thrilled that TEAM PYP has been a help. Best wishes on your writing!