While it might appear to be conflicting advice, I think it has more to do with the fact that we’re all different–and at different points in our writing.
Here is a saying from the book The Relief of Imperfection by Joan Webb that explains why this is true. I will adapt it to writers below.
Unique Personalities and Needs
- Some of us need to stop thinking and do, while others need to stop doing and think.
- Some need to stop asking and give, though others need to cease giving and ask.
- Some of us need to stop crying and smile, yet others need to stop smiling and cry.
- Some need to stop confronting and give in, while others need to quit compromising and confront.
- Some of us need to stop waiting and run, though others need to stop running and wait.
How would these ideas apply to writers? I think it might go something like this:
- Some of us need to stop researching and write, while others need to stop writing and think through their ideas.
- Some need to stop asking for free critiques, though others need to stop giving away their writing and ask for payment.
- Some writers need to stop crying over rejections, yet others need to stop pretending and admit that rejection hurts.
- Some writers need to stop arguing every point in their contract, while others need to quit compromising and ask for what’s fair.
- Some writers need to stop procrastinating and start writing, though other writers need to stop writing and rest a while.
Different Folks, Different Strokes
Only you can decide where you fall in this continuum. And it won’t always be the same place.
I’ve had years where I plunged ahead with a writing project, but I should have stopped and done more research and thinking. On the other hand, I’ve had projects where I’ve been too scared to start the writing. Rather than face the overwhelming fear, I procrastinated and called it “planning.”
There is an old saying in many churches designed to help people get unstuck. Someone may ask, “Are you waiting on God – or is God waiting on you?” Only you can know your own motives. Only you can know if you are putting off submitting your novel because it’s truly not ready – or if you’re a frightened perfectionist afraid to let it go.
The next time you’re stuck, examine why you are doing – or not doing – your next writing task. Journaling your feelings is a great way to discover your own motivation. What works for you today may not be what worked for you last year.
Writing advice is not “one size fits all.” Remember that when you hear advice (including mine), and remember it when you’re tempted to give writing advice. We can really only share what is right for us at this point in time.