Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Stage Mama's Epiphany on Technique and Execution

Since I see just about everything in my life in terms of writing, it's no surprise that I can turn a stage-mama moment into a lesson on the craft :)

My 6 yr old had her first gymnastics competition this past Friday. Well, it was an exhibition - she's in the pre-competitive team program that is designed to give the girls a taste of what being on the actual team and doing competitions will be like. If they like it and make it through the program, they move up to the competitive team. Well, my daughter LOVES it. And she's good at it.

She's not the best. She hasn't been around as long (just started about 7 months ago) so she isn't as experienced as some of the girls who are older or came from the advanced class. But she's pretty dang good. And while one or two of the other (older and more experienced) girls do the actual routines better, my daughter NAILS it with her form. (Stick with me...I promise I'm not going to go all psycho-proud-mama on you...too much :D )

She might flub a move here or there, the other girls might complete the routine without as many mistakes, but my daughter's execution of the routines is really beautiful. Her form and technique are clean, solid, totally crisp, muscles taut, toes pointed - really, just fun to watch, even if there are mistakes the other girls may not have made.

And it made me think of books and getting published (because seriously, most things in my life do lol).

I know I'm not the only one to pick up a published book and think "if this got published, why can't my book?"  Or maybe you finish reading an absolutely amazing book and just feel like you want to hang up your pen because you'll never write something as awesome as that.

I feel like that a lot. Especially when I'm struggling with a particularly stubborn project that feels like I'll never get it done (to my satisfaction that is) :) I finished reading a book just last night that sort of gave the "oy, my current wip will never be this good" vibe.

And then I got to thinking. If I break it down by elements, the story I'd read really wasn't any better than the story I'm writing right now. I think my story just as interesting, just as compelling. But the form, the technique, with which the published book was executed is better than mine at the moment.

I think sometimes, when I run into issues with my books, I tend to focus on the storyline. I try to think of new elements I can add, new characters or new situations. And then I over-complicate things, bog them down with unnecessary additions. When I might just need to focus on executing the elements I already have better. I don't need to make the plot more complicated or throw in a dozen new twists. I just need to weave better, transition smoother, flow better - hone my technique and make the story I have really shine.

So in the spirit of that, I'm off to polish up a manuscript :)

How are you all doing with your projects? Do you ever have "I'm gonna hang up my pen" moments? What gets you past them?

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