#IWSG: Knowing When To Let Go of Control

Authors’ Writing Trials & Triumphs & Secret Dreams revealed on #IWSG.

May 6 question – Do you have any rituals that you use when you need help getting into the ZONE? Care to share?


The awesome co-hosts for the May 6 posting of the IWSG are Feather Stone, Beverly Stowe McClure, Mary Aalgaard, Kim Lajevardi, and Chemist Ken!

I’m so excited to be this month’s co-host. I’ll be visiting as many of you as possible and get to know more about our wonderful community of authors.

My response to this month’s question is pretty simple. It’s almost never a problem getting into the zone – more the opposite. It’s been a challenge maintain a balance of writing time and making time for exercise and peanut butter sandwiches. Any time I’m stumped for the next paragraph, I flip back to the previous chapter and do some simple editing. By the time I’m at the blank page, my muse and I are super charged up.

However, I do recall some days when the block sucked the life out of all inspiration. After some early experiences with this frustration, I realized the block manifested when my ego got in the way of the story’s natural flow. Without any doubt, I knew the exact paragraph when the story began to stumble; when I pushed the, the, ah ….. the storyteller aside.

Who is the storyteller? None of my novels have come from me. I’m certain of that. But that’s a subject for another day.

That’s when the truly hard moment begins. I hit the delete button and erase the misguided pages, perhaps even chapters (saved in a special file in case some pieces are needed).

Through meditation I silence the chatter in my head, and close my eyes. The storyteller steps forward. The flow begins again with ease. And the prose, dialogue, the characters breathe and speak to me again. The magic fills me with wonder.

It’s simply a matter of knowing when to let go of control and trust the storyteller.

Blessings to everyone.

81 thoughts on “#IWSG: Knowing When To Let Go of Control

    1. doreenb8

      Thank you so much for cohosting this month.
      All these years later I still attempt to argue with my characters about where they want to go.

      Like

  1. Jennifer Lee Hawes

    I do the same method for jumping back into the muse. Take a look at the last chapter, do some editing, and then move on to the next one!

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    1. It’s okay to have time away from the keyboard. I used to worry about that. Other life challenges required my attention every now and then. My mind still developed characters and dialogue. I wondered if those moments of inspiration would return when I did return to the keyboard. The inspirations always returned. The muse is always there when you’re ready.

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  2. Thanks for co-hosting today. Before I comment further, I must say, I LOVE RED PANDAS!
    Now, back to the subject at hand. I wish I could control my brain/muse to write whenever, but I’m just a grasshopper in training. Maybe I’ll be a master one day.

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    1. Yes, be a master of the process of good writing. You like Red Pandas? Now, I’m curious why did you let me in on that passion? LOL. I have a beautiful painting (by a famous artist) of a Red Panda that my in-laws purchased in China. It could be for sale for the right price. I will post a photo of it on my facebook page, fsauthor.

      Like

  3. Forcing the words doesn’t work well for me. I almost always end up having to throw them away. Unless I;m on a deadline with my critique group, I just move on to something else. Hey, that’s what Candy Crush is for!

    Thanks for co-hosting this month!

    Like

    1. You’ll find what works for you. Every author has their own technique and style. It took me ten years to write my first novel. That included taking night classes at the University Extension. After three programs which plunged me into the deep end of fiction writing, I had the tools to finish that first project which was traditionally published. I got lucky, I think. Working with a critique group is also a great idea. Best of luck.

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  4. Thanks for co-hosting! Many times, I have a similar experience of a book writing me instead of the other way around. It’s never a good sign when words don’t naturally flow.

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    1. I used to have the ‘out-of-zone experience. Now I don’t fret over it like I used to. It’s temporary and quite fixable. The ‘fix’ may be different for each author. The key is to never give up. Blessings

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  5. Hi,
    This is so true. Letting go and let the storyteller tell the story. Whenever I start writing, what my main character considers junk they tell me. Sometimes, I tend to let me get in the way and want to control the story and that doesn’t turn out good at all.
    Thanks for co-hosting.
    All the best.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

    Like

  6. Diane Burton

    Thanks for co-hosting this month. How fortunate you are that going into the zone is not difficult. Rereading a few pages helps me, too.

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  7. nancygideon

    LOL! LOVE the graphic! That’s me before coffee. I’ve found when the inspiration stops flowing, if I insert (More stuff here!) and move on, that “stuff” I needed usually will be available in the ole mental editor the next day. If it’s not there and the path ahead is clear, I’ll jump over it rather than waste the time when words are eager to flow on the page. Thanks for co-hosting this month, Judy, and for connecting me to my new spirit animal!

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  8. Thank you for co-hosting! It’s wonderful to meet you. “I realized the block manifested when my ego got in the way of the story’s natural flow.” This struck a cord within me. And then you continue to mention about feeling like it’s not you who writes your novels. I understand this. I’ve always had this sense – when I find my zone – that something is going on. That it’s really not me. I’m so glad you wrote this post and that I journeyed over here. I’m going to try to sit, meditate for a few minutes, and then open my eyes to type, hoping the real writer comes for a visit. 🙂

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  9. What a beautiful way to explain your writing experience. The storyteller takes over. Stopping the chatter and allowing the storyteller to move in is needed advice for me. Thank you and thanks for co-hosting!!
    JQ Rose

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    1. Oy, oy, the editing. The search for perfection and yet not loose the inspiration, the magic. Even with intentions to write the first draft perfectly, it never is. Not even close. It’s amazing how after three or four drafts, the essence, the core of the magic remains solid and true. When I reread a difficult passage, it becomes obvious what belongs and what is just fluff.
      Blessings

      Like

  10. Arlee Bird

    I should learn to meditate and focus better. I’ve tried but my mind always start wandering and rolling out new ideas or mulling over old ones. But as long as I can get a decent night’s sleep then I consider that a pretty worthwhile accomplishment.

    If you figure a way to bottle your good writing habits, send me some of that elixir.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    Like

    1. Ah, I’d like a wee bit of that elixir, too, Arlee Bird. I’ve strayed lately from remaining steadfast to my previous productive writing habits. A bit of adjustment to becoming a widow kicked my desire for anything creative to the curb. Too much reality and not enough whimsy has left me doubting who I am. However, the third novel is simmering in the deep end of the right brain. I can see it from front cover to the final page. I hear the storyteller calling. It’s time. Soon.
      Blessings

      Like

  11. cathrina

    Thanks for co-hosting this month!!

    I need complete quiet to concentrate and I rarely get it…and why, during these times, I’m up until 2am writing…complete silence.

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  12. Love the graphic at the bottom of your post. It can describe me, both the image and the words, although I don’t look nearly so cute.
    I must’ve misplaced my storyteller some time in the past few years. Nothing flows, alas. But I keep up hope that one day, I’ll rediscover my muse.
    Thanks for co-hosting this month.

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    1. Hi Olga: I haven’t written a thing since my husband died three years ago; well, except for my blog every now and then. I’m better now and will begin page 1 of chapter 1 soon. That kind of excites me to return to the highs of living in a fantasy for a few hours each day. Hope your storyteller returns to you soon.
      Blessings

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  13. Lee Lowery

    I frequently delete paragraphs or whole sections, but like you, I save them in a file. There are always nuggets of inspiration in what we’ve written, even if it isn’t apparent in the current WIP. Thanks for co-hosting today!

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  14. That could be me in that tree! I swear, my mind doesn’t give me a moment to breathe as my imagination runs wild and “writes” forever. Most of it disappears, as I’m not often in a position to actually type or write it down. It sure sounds like your muse is a winner! 🙂 Thanks for co-hosting this month.

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  15. mlouisebarbourfundyblue

    Hi, Judy! I’m too hyperactive to handle meditating, but I admire those of you who can do it. I know exactly what you mean when you say “None of my novels have come from me.” Well, not exactly because I haven’t written a whole novel yet, but I let it all flow through me from wherever it comes. That’s one of the fascinating things about writing. Kudos to you for co-hosting! Co-hosting over the years has helped me to get to know a lot of members better. We have a great group of people here! I hope you’re having a fabulous day!

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  16. I love your post and the suggestion to let the storyteller speak. This is the scariest part of writing, i find. What if the story is rubbish? What if, what if, what if? But the most inspired writing comes from letting the story shine through. Thank you for co-hosting.

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    1. Thank you for the visit, Kalpana. Even famous authors will tell you their first draft is rubbish. Being a writer is taking a diamond in the rough, and with each successive edit, from page one to the last, the beauty and brilliance emerges.
      Blessings

      Like

  17. debscarey

    Excellent advice! I think I’m particularly struggling at the moment as I’m co-authoring, and the voice is necessarily a shared one, so it is fighting with many other voices in my head! Thanks muchly for co-hosting this month & for the great advice.

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  18. Thanks for sharing, and thanks for co-hosting. It hadn’t occurred to me to pay attention to when I lose motivation so much as to why. Looking back, as you described, at an abandoned manuscript the when and why are as clear as a summer stream. I may finish the story by week’s end.
    Thanks so much for the insight!

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  19. I do the same thing with going back and rereading previous pages or chapters. That always helps me find my way forward again. That and listening to my characters. They know the story better than I do. Thank you for co-hosting!

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  20. Hi Diane. When I’m tackling a particularly hard project I try the Hemingway approach, (Not at all comparing myself to Hemingway. No one is Hemingway, but his approach has helped.)
    I’ll write towards my deadline for no more than an hour and a half. When the alarm goes off I force myself to stop. Then I’m more eager to get back to it the following morning.
    Thank you for co-hosting!

    Like

  21. That’s such a great point about the ego taking over. I’ve never thought about it that way, but maybe that’s what’s going on when I have to remind myself that nothing I write in the moment matters—it can all be reworked later. That reminder frees me up to just go (giving over control to the muse) and not worry about what finished product might be presented to the world (the ego’s concern).

    I also love your tip to do some light editing of the previous chapter to get revved up for diving into the next. I’ve definitely found that to work.

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  22. Thanks for co-hosting! To get in the zone, I have to music playing. Specifically the music playlist I’ve created for my story.

    When I write, I let the storyteller (my main character) tell the story too. Meditation’s a good way to get back into the proper flow of a story. Would definitely try that, and maybe light editing a previous chapter, the next time I get blocked.

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  23. Yes Judy, finding the storyteller and letting her sing. Enabling the characters to take you places you hadn’t intended also I would add. Embrace the story writing yourself, not the author creating something separate.
    Wishing you an inspired month and thank you for co-hosting this May.

    Like

    1. Hello Susan: Thank you for visiting my post. Yes, I have difficulty accepting that I actually play a part, more than the puppet, in creating the stories. Writing has been the most magical part of my life. I feel so blessed.
      Blessings

      Liked by 1 person

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