how to become the thor of creative writing (guest post by alyssa)

by - 5/16/2015 10:30:00 pm

A writer's life is difficult. You might have writer's block and face a blank page for the entire day. You might receive negative critiques, and have no clue how to rewrite. You might even send out a dozen queries and only receive radio silence. It's not easy to create good enough art, enough art, or even art at all.

These all lead to one end point: we feel unworthy and inadequate, whether compared to the level of art we want to create, to other people, or to our own expectations.

Even Thor couldn't lift Mjolnir for a while. (x)
It's completely normal to encounter problems in your writing journey. There's no real shortcut around them and they are valuable to the process. But the fear that holds you back isn't. Self-doubt may be what keeps you from hammering out that first draft, from rewriting a better novel, from taking that query where it needs to go.

So how do we overcome self-doubt?

1. Give yourself permission to make mistakes. 
Thor got hit by a car twice in the first 24 hours of landing on Earth...sorry, Midgard. If a god can mess up like that, so can we.

Every time you feel dejected about your writing, tell yourself, "I am allowed to make mistakes." If you make a mistake in the first draft, you can rewrite it into a second draft. If you make a mistake in the sixth draft, you can go back to the fifth draft. (Side PSA: save all your drafts, world. You'll be glad later.) No one can foresee whether one thing will work out or no unless you try it.

Remember: it's not really a mistake unless you refuse to fix it. So once you've accepted you're not invincible, move on to solving the problem.


2. Do the things that scare you a little

x
When Thor first confronted the Destroyer, he was a mortal and he had like zero chance of walking away unscathed. He still did it, because he was unwilling to see more of the town destroyed for him.

There's not a lot of room for self-sacrifice in creative writing, but a blank page or a rejection letter is no less daunting than a seven-foot hunkering metal monster that shoots flames out of its rotating head. It's not easy to write until midnight or revise your query twenty times, but don't be afraid to try out new things. Rewrite in a new tense, or order takeout chocolate.

After all, the worst that can happen is that you get scared.


3. Don't be afraid to start over.
I'm not telling you to go get killed by a Destroyer and come back to life by the power of Thor. But that helpful mantra, "kill your darlings"? Often it's because your "darlings" don't deserve to be loved.

If you've tried to fix things the sane way and the insane way, maybe it just can't be fixed. Let that writing project sit for a little while, come back to it later. Show it to critique partners and betas. There might just not be a compelling story here. That's the most difficult thing: admitting it didn't work out, and you don't think it's going to.

Not everything you write has a future. Maggie Stiefvater has 34 unpublished manuscripts. There is no shame in shelving a project.

Quote from Cap 2. Poster by Dian @ The Happy Candle.
The problems you encounter in writing are completely legitimate and not to be ignored. The blank page may mean the scene doesn't fit into the plot. Your critique partners have the distance Your queries may be landing in the inboxes of agents who don't rep that genre. Do not ignore your problems. Accept them. Fix them. Make new problems, and find new successes.

After all, if you can't solve your own problems, how do you expect your characters to?

Psst, don't forget to read Jo's post about Loki and great villains on my blog!

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alyssa carlier
Alyssa Carlier (@AlyssaC_HK) is a high school student in Hong Kong. She doesn't have a day job, but at night she breathes ink and paper and Kindle. In between bouts of writing, she dabbles with laboratory bacteria and posts on her writing and book blog. She sends exclusive content to her newsletter subscribers, because who doesn't like bonus takeout?



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20 comments

  1. Wow! These are all really great tips. I always have days like this, I'll keep these tips in mind.

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  2. This was super encouraging! Giving up a project always makes me feel like a failure, even though often it's because it just doesn't work.

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    1. That's good to hear (not the project part, but...you know). :')

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  3. Replies
    1. She did make very good points. Thanks for commenting. :)

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  4. THOR MIGHT NOT HAVE BEEN ABLE TO LIFT MJOLNIR BUT VISION COULD

    Whoops sorry what I got all Marvel fangirl on you

    Great post!

    O | Life as a Young Lady

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    1. YES!

      Fellow Marvel fangirl here was ready for that. >:)

      It was indeed!

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  5. This. This is amazing! I love the comparison. And all you had to say was that even Thor had a time when he couldn't lift his own hammer. I realized am entirely to hard on myself. Breathing should be permissible.

    Steifaver has, has shelved manuscripts? I don't really read her. But I hear peoe fangirl about her all the time. Wow. This is very humbling to me.

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    1. Glad you liked Alyssa's post! And yes, you should go easy on yourself all writers should. :)

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  6. I was smiling and nodding and cracking up. I would NEVER have thought to compare Thor to writing but I LOVE IT!!! Great job Alyssa+Jo!!!

    Chloe | Curious Ramblings

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    1. I'm happy you liked the posts! I agree, it was clever on Alyssa's part. :D thanks for your nice comment on my post on Alyssa's blog!

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  7. Thank you for hosting me, Jo! Loved working with you :D

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  8. Haha can I just say how much I love the title of this post! Odd thing to point out but I just had to ;)

    Emily | Lynde Avenue

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  9. Ooh, I love this! I think Alyssa really inspires us to find that inner Thor and recognize that there's a hero in every writer after all... Yes, I like that. :D Thanks for hosting, Jo!

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    1. Yeah, Alyssa did great! Thanks for commenting, and no problem :)

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  10. The most important thing is to love what you write !

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