I’m officially declaring this Gut Week on the blog. Gut gut gut.
On Monday we talked about how impatience gets in the way of the gut, and on Tuesday… uh.. nevermind, Tuesday doesn’t apply, but then yesterday the dominant response to the “how do you know when to listen to your beta readers” was: the gut.
Clearly instincts are absolutely imperative for writers. Good ones will take you all the way to publication and a supplementary income to your day job, bad ones will lead you to write a 1,000 page stream of consciousness memoir written in the second person.
But there’s much more to the story than just instincts, because instincts do not just consistently make themselves known in big bold letters. Instead, instincts are a bit like sails on a boat, ready to be blown about by the winds.
The gut is very impressionable! These are but some of the gut busters that can lead a gut to make very bad decisions indeed:
– reluctance to kill darlings
– irrational exuberance
– outside pressure
– delusions of grandeur
The only way to make a gut decision is with a clear head. So before you decide your gut is telling you to just hit send on a 4,000 word query, you might first run a system scan on the gut to see if any these qualities are interfering. And this is just a partial list! Please add your own gut busters in the comments section.
Ultimately: be honest with yourself! A good gut is a terrible thing to waste.
Deaf Brown Trash Punk says
Nate, I dont trust myself, let alone trust anybody. which makes it more difficult for me as a writer. Ugh. sometimes I don’t know if my writings SUCK or if they’re alright.
Lady Glamis says
Ultimately: be honest with yourself!
Well, yeah. But as Ken (early) and Lady Glamis (recently) said, in different words, I think the biggest gutbuster is self-consciousness. The writer sits there thinking, Okay now — I’m going to… I’m going to… write a query! and immediately gets all in a sweaty lather about the “self” being presented in the query.
As though it makes sense to have one self for the query and another for the book.
But Nathan, what about “In vino veritas”? lol
As far as getting too wrapped up in problems, stress, or when I simply need to get away from my script, I go for a nice long ride on my bicycle. I imagine that it’s just like riding a Harley only maybe not quite as fast, cos I’m the engine. It’s the best way to oxygenate the grey matter and clear a head there is . . . i’ve been doing it since i was a kid.
bryan russell says
In vino veritas…
“He reminds me of someone… me! Now I know I hate him.”
Ah, couldn’t resist. All answers come by way of Tombstone, Arizona.
Write the book, get an agent to be your huckleberry, and no worries. Hakuna Mattata (If there was audio, there’d be an Elton John segue here…)
Right now I’m looking for reasons to jettison a dossier style prologue, but every time I read it, I find it to be some of the funniest and pithy stuff I’ve ever written. I’m literally infatuated with the first paragraph and am considering printing it out and rubbing it all over my body.
What gutbuster spell am I under? Anyone? Help?
Robena Grant says
And the Elton John segue … Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me …
but, back to gut buster’s.
When we let our brain outhink our gut. I love Deepak Chopra’s advice on questions/instincts. He says ask of the heart because the heart always knows. I use this often. I ask a question then sleep on it and within a day or two the answers always comes to me.
I would add: your insinct, or “gut” can be informed unconsciously by your reading material. If you read the best books you can find you will learn to love good writing. Your gut will respond. 🙂
Kate H says
I think the biggest gut-buster for me at this point is discouragement/ depression. When I first started out it was impatience combined with unrealistic expectations. Now my expectations have been lowered to approximately the center of the earth, and I have trouble getting underneath them to find some hope. From this vantage point, everything I write sounds like it was written by space monkeys, and stupid ones at that.
Hokey as his verse sometimes sounds, Kipling had it right when he wrote, “If you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same . . .” Dispassion is what we need for the gut to function optimally.
Scott, I think I have the answer. You’re suffering under selfbrilliance-infatuation. I had the same malady the other day when I wanted to eat a particular scene in my manuscript. I controlled myself. One of my kids did catch me kissing it, though.
fantastic superb..ur thought process,can we chat sometime?
Writing with the aim of being published.
The story has to take its own course.
hmmm I sometimes think I enjoy killing my darlings too much. Cause then I cry and make other people cry and at least that’s something.