Sunday, March 25, 2012

Do You Listen to Too Many People?

Good Morning Everyone,

Are you one of these people who listen to everything anyone tells you?  I am.  Is this good?  It maybe, but more often than not it isn't.  Why, you say?  Because you are the only one who knows what you are trying to say, or make your characters say.  When you listen to other people, they can lead you away from your voice. 

For years, I listened to contest judges, critique groups, chapter members and tried to do everything they told me to do, making my writing better in some ways, but totally losing my way.  I didn't have a voice of my own, and there's the crux of the matter.  I found myself trying to write like everyone else, which only made my writing sound like everyone else. 

In defense of my early critique groups, all of us were unpublished and we were all learning.  We had help from our published peers at times, and I'm not faulting them either because they couldn't follow us through our stories to make each of us stay on track.

An aspiring writer must get some backbone and stick up for what you think is right for your story.  If it's not a romance, don't let someone make you turn it into one.  If someone says you can't have sex in your story or you have to have sex in your story, and you don't want to do it that way then stay true to yourself. 

Do you listen to anyone?  Of course, you do.  I prefer to listen to those who make me think rather than those who tell me what to do.  I like to hear what's wrong with my work, how to fix the problem, but doesn't tell me how to do it.

Also, I recommend that if they aren't willing to listen to you run the other way.  If they think they know your story better than you do, they are wrong.  You know your characters and what makes them the way they are better than anyone. 

This article was posted in MARA MATTERS in April, 2008 by Sandy Marshall.

Thank you for reading.  See you next Sunday.

Sandra K. Marshall
Author Page at Amazon:


Paris said...

I had a lot of wonderful advice and so much help along the way but I think the most important thing I realized about my writing was that at some point I had to just trust myself and go for it!

Sandy said...

Thanks, Paris. I agree with you on this matter.

Jill James said...

It takes a lot of self-confidence to have someone say 'you need to change this' and be able to answer back that no you don't need to change it.

I worked with an editor on Tempting Adam for The Wild Rose Press and near the end of the book the editor mentioned changing something and I answered back that I couldn't change that because that was how the character would act. The editor wrote me back that she was glad I said no to something because it was my story and only I knew everything about it.

Carol Ericson said...

Sandy, I had the good fortune(?) of not having a critque group or belonging to any romance writing group or chapter when I first started writing. I did start entering a lot of contests and got some wonderful advice about showing/not telling and getting rid of backstory, but I never let one judge change the WAY I wrote, the way I strung words together, my dialogue, etc. That's what comprises your voice, and you do have to hold onto that.

Beppie Harrison said...

Okay, Sandy, here I am, and I read it. In principle, I certainly agree. It's the practice that I seem to have problems with -- at least immediately. Usually I can sort myself out within a few days, but those are not happy days.

Resolution: try harder earlier!


Lynda C. said...

Hi Sandy,
Great post! I firmly believe that the writer is the only one who can tell the story that lives in their heart and mind. Others can give advice, good and bad, but the writer should always stay true to their perspective. Not every reader will like it, but those that do will connect with you because your voice touches them in a unique way. I want to love the story I write whether or not anyone else does. I sense that same attitude in the work of most of my favorite authors.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

Sandy said...

You're so right, Jill. Back then I didn't have that confidence.

Thank you, Carol. That's the key.

LOL Beppie, I agree we needed to start earlier.

Lynda, so nice to see you here. Thank you for coming by.

Stacey Joy Netzel said...

This is some great advice, Sandy. Take what works for you and let go of the rest.

Louise Behiel said...

Great advice, Sandy. My problem was that I didn't know what I was doing, so I had no confidence. I twisted things inside out to sell. eventually I stopped writing so frustrated I couldn't believe it. so i quit for awhile. and now i've come back and i'm much more confident in my writing. I can listen but I don't have to follow every suggestion. thank heavens.

great post and good reminder.

Marianne Stephens said...

You can listen to suggestions, but then decide for yourself what fits your voice/style. Sometimes too many comments can be confusing...I say go with your gut feeling. You can listen, but you know yourself better than others.

Sandy said...

Thank you, Stacey.

Louise, it sounds like you were a bit like me. I wanted to get published so bad that I did everything anyone told me to do.

Thanks, Marianne. I used to let people rewrite my words, and it sounded so much better than what I wrote I would leave it.