Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Silencing the Babble

Though I've rarely delved deep into writing advice, it seems as if I am always hearing snippets of advice from out of nowhere: Show, don't tell. Strong dialog sells. Don't get into too many people's heads! Adverbs are the devil incarnate. Write what you know. Write what you don't know. Eliminate all passive voice. Pay attention to rhythm, sentence length, the tone of your voice. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. It's that old adage: a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Anne Lamott writes about a lovely little radio station called KFKD (not going into what that stands for). It is constantly bombarding the airwaves with negative vibes, criticism, and self-doubt. Authors can tune in at any time to hear the lovely strains of despair and defeat. I hate that station, but for some reason my brain's internal dial feels compelled to turn there.

I don't trust myself to write well. I never think I'm good enough. I probably need to be an mathematician: a job where when you're done, you're done. You don't have to wonder if you did a "great" job or not, it's not subjective. But the creative side of me balks at that. It wants to create something so beautiful that it sings, so different that it touches people and makes them want to imagine. Something that must necessarily be subjective.

I know that if I'm going to write I'll have to silence that stream of hate-speech targeted at my work. I have to suck it up and turn off KFKD radio, then glue my fingers to the keyboard. I'm like so many other authors: I love having written, it's the writing part that gets me.

But I can do this. I can work in peace. 
I can wait to criticize until I've actually written something.

3 comments:

Jade said...

Abby, have you tried stream-of-consciousness journal entries? When I'm feeling doubtful or like I'm not sure what to write, I practice free-writing. It's a wonderful release. Trust your intuition when it comes to writing advice, too. While some of that advice is helpful, it's subject to preferences :) Keep writing and enjoy! :)

Sylace said...

I have that Anne Lamott book. I love it. You really (adverb) are a versatile and talented writer, Abby...

Michael said...

I feel you, Abby; I definitely "listen" to KFKD a lot when I'm trying to do anything creative