Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Time to Let Go

After months of not playing, I recently sat down at the piano. But when I tried to play, my fingers were rusty and they stumbled over the notes. Determined to get it right, I concentrated on each finger. I focused on where it should be, its every movement---but my playing only seemed to get worse. It was not fun.

Finally, I let go.

I stopped trying to over-think each movement and let my well-practiced fingers take over. And there it was. The music I remembered. The flow of notes, the tricky rhythms, the octave jumps. It all came back.

And it felt good.

Perhaps with writing it's the same. When we get stuck and don't know where to go next, sometimes we try to force the issue. Perhaps we're still in editing mode from revising the last piece. Perhaps we're simply determined to get it right the first time. Perhaps we're worried that we'll never write something as good as Jane Doe who just won a boatload of awards. Whatever it is, it is NOT fun.

That is when it is time to let go. Let your practiced hand and heart take over. Remember why you ever started writing in the first place. Forget about the rules you're supposed to be following. That can be worked out later. Forget about everyone else who would tell you you're doing it wrong. Just let go, and that is when the magic happens. The story unfolds. The characters come alive. And writing becomes fun again.

And man does it feel good.

14 comments:

Joanne said...

Great advice. When I'm writing and in that place where I don't know where to go next, I have a process that often works. I'll come at the scene from a completely unexpected, never-can-work place, throwing a whole new angle into it. When I do, the writing just seems to open up and take the story where it needs to go.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Oh, this is so true. Though this tends to be more of a problem for me during the first draft (even though I have an outline). Or when I'm editing a section that I know needs something, but I can't figure out what it is . . . until I go for a run. :D

Chris Phillips said...

Good advice for almost any activity, except maybe hang-gliding or mountain climbing.

Jessica Bell said...

I totally agree. It happens with both guitar and writing for me. If I let go, I make my best work.

Lori M. Lee said...

Great advice and I need to put this into practice as I start my next wip =P

WritingNut said...

Great advice.. sometimes we get so caught up on what we're supposed to be doing, and how it's supposed to be done that we lose track of what's really important.

LTM said...

LOVE! What a great post. and this really does work for me, although not w/my piano playing. I never got that good... :D

Thanks, CUF~

Lynn said...

Wise words Janet! Getting out of our own way allows the best of us to shine through.

Laurel Garver said...

You are so right! Sometimes you have to leave the stuck part of the story and dive into a later spot with total freedom. In time, the solutions to fixing the stuck part will come.

Beth said...

It sounds like you've been doing some wonderful writing! This is great advice, and it reminds me that at its best, writing is a true joy.

Medeia Sharif said...

So true....

I did a fast draft during the summer that I believe is better than anything I've ever written. Despite an outline since I'm a plotter, I still wrote with abandon.

Stephen Tremp said...

I'm the same way. One day it all falls int place. Its a great feeling. All that hard work and sacrifice just happens at a particular moment and it flows like a river.

Susanne Drazic said...

Great advice, Janet! Thank you.

Reb's Photo World said...

It is so easy to over-think things!!! Way to let go!