by Peggy Bechko
I’m talking about writing, but the big plus in today’s discussion is that it applies to life in general as well.
The simple fact, boys and girls, is pretty much all of us have a ‘gut reaction’, a ‘gut feeling’ a ‘trust your gut moment’ at any time and in most any circumstance. Dating? Have an uneasy feeling with that person? Trust your gut.
You’ve written a novel. You’ve found an agent, but you’re not comfortable with that agent? Trust your gut.
It can be hard and it can be scary. You don’t want to give up that agent you worked so hard to have notice you. You don’t want to pass up that handsome or beautiful person you’re on your first date with.
In life we learn pretty quickly that if a person or circumstance seems too good to be true, he/she/it probably is. If a business proposition appears to be a gift from heaven, odds are it isn’t. The thing of it is, you can’t set something right if you don’t accept it’s wrong.
In terms of writing, I think it works like this:
We’re told a lot of things when we embark on writing as more than an amusing pass-time. It comes down to trusting yourself. We’re told no first draft will ever sell and the first is meant as little more than to get ideas down on paper or up on the computer screen.
Mostly, I agree. I routinely go through a number of drafts, but there was this one time, I needed to submit a novel fast, get it out there, take a chance. It had flowed like honey on a warm day and I sold it on the first draft (though I admit I’d been editing as I’d proceeded which I usually don’t do either) to Doubleday.
But here’s the real endgame. When you create, script or novel, and all the dust is cleared away, it is, after all, your story. You came up with the idea. You did the heavy lifting to write it. You know your story inside out. Others don’t.
I’m not saying the writers shouldn’t take editorial or script notes and use them to improve a story, but that’s the time to trust yourself and use what makes sense; reject the rest. There’s no secret trick – there’s you.
The story idea you begin with has the same rule when you pick it. Did it jump up and bite you? Are you enthusiastic as all get out to get that idea down on paper? To drag it out of your brain and give it life?
Yes? Then that’s the go flag at the races. That’s your gut talking.
Got offered a writing job, a project that sounds great in most ways except it just doesn’t thrill you? Pay is off the charts good? Thinking you should jump on it, but your warning flags are waving in a storm squall mode?
Pay attention. This might be a time when you, as writer, need to give it a pass (shudder). You might be able to do a fantastic job on the gig rewriting, ghostwriting, partnering up, whatever, but it might well not be worth it if you’re left tied up in knots.
Look, anybody can give you writing tips. I have on this blog. But what it comes down to as you look ahead and evaluate what to do and whom to do it with (I’m talking business associations here, so keep your mind out of the gutter-though that’s another good place to trust your gut) is trusting yourself.
Listen up. Heed the warning gut cramps that your internal voice sends to guide you. That way you can write with the confidence it takes to go forth and conquer!
Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her HERE. You can find more great articles on her sensationally helpful blog. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page