Sometimes I like to play in the footsteps of others. I do things because those greater than me did them. I do things because I saw someone else do it and I liked it. I do things not because I feel that it's right inside or because it's part of my personality. I do it because it was done before and it worked. I do it hoping maybe it will work for me.
I don't develop my own methods or my own styles. No. That won't do. They didn't do that. It might fail. It might not work. Mostly, I don't go my own way because of fear. I'm afraid to do it differently.
If I could tell you how many drafts I've written for the first nine paragraphs for my novel, you'd stare at me like I was completely crazy. But honestly I don't know how many I've been through. Five? Sixteen? Twenty? Too many to count. Over and over, I just keep trying to make it perfect. I don't want to do it wrong. I don't want to plan too little or plan too much. I don't want to give too much away but I don't want it to be hard to understand. I want it perfect.
I try manipulating the novels written by my favorite authors. How did they start? What do they give away at the beginning? I try doing what they did. But it doesn't feel right. I doesn't work. Nothing is going the way I want it to. I can't get past chapter one. I'll never get past chapter one.
I delete what little I've written of chapter one and two and file them away in my drafts. It's time to start somewhere new. I need to look at this from different eyes. I dig through my writing bag. Notebooks. Pens. Loose papers. I pull out Spilling Ink. It's my favorite writing book because it doesn't give me rules I have to follow. It gives me choices.
I flip through the pages. They're marked on and sticky notes are poking out from the edges. I turn to the section about narrative voices. I can't stop thinking about first person. After reading The Hunger Games, I've been in love with the first person narrative voice. I've always written in third. But as much as I love first, I'm afraid to use it.
"How do you know when you've hit on the right narrative voice? You'll feel it...All of a sudden your story will start to fall into place, and you'll know how to tell it." -Ellen Potter, Spilling Ink, pg. 76.All at once I know what to do. I forget about THG narrative, HP narrative, Percy Jackson narrative, and I am Number Four narrative. I just do what feels right.
Chapter two is slowly coming together exactly how I want it to. I'm writing how I write. Not how anyone else writes. How I do. This is why I've been stuck for so long, afraid of making any tiny mistake. Because I wasn't doing what I do. I was a shadow of my favorite writers. And after so long, I finally find my voice. I finally stop doing what I've labeled as the "way to do it" and I just do what feels right.
I think we all sometimes get stuck in trying to shadow what we've always seen as "the right way." In blog posts, in photography, in writing. But sometimes we have to form our own style and our own methods. We have to do what we feel is right. Because otherwise, we'll never be happy with what we do. Because there's a voice inside trying to tell you how you as a unique and amazing person should do things. When you don't listen, nothing works. When you do? Everything does.