Discourse Discussion: Avoiding Disasters

Discourse in literature is fickle,and when you fail hard, it can be debilitating. One minute you are running freely with an idea, page after page you are flying through your story. Your characters are forming wonderful conclusions, they are growing through their conversations and observations with other, just as wonderful, characters. Life is good your story is going to inspire a generation, hell, maybe even the genre as a whole. Only to T-bone into the fatal, stone hard, self destructive wall your subconscious constructed while you were busy on your joy ride. You start to think “What the fuck am I talking about? My writing is awful!” And in a catastrophic, dramatic show of your own self-loathing you hit the backwards delete button page after page… gone…

So how do we, as writers move past this crippling experience? No really, if you have a suggestion tell me because I don’t have it figured out. This is my first attempt at writing since I graduated with a degree in English Literature.Which by the way, my diploma might as well say R.I.P. any imagination  this student may have had prior to entering our facility. Because NOTHING strangles your creative voice like writing scholarly essays for two years. So I am back to learning how to explore my emotions through writing and not give up.

Here is some advice from artistic rebels, who like me, need a break from their day job.

1) Stop caring so much and let shit go. I’m paraphrasing an amazing facebook status from a fellow graduate and friend named Danielle. And she wasn’t talking about wasp nests in her career as a writer, she was talking about her personal life with friends and family. What I gathered from this is that if you hold on to grudges and negativity it will show up in the creative aspects in your life. You need all the energy you can collect to devote to your creative outlook when you are working 40 hours/week and has god knows how many other responsibilities.

2) My co-worker David gave me this little gem, that you have to create a pile of poop in order to fertilize the foundation of literary greatness.  Just keep writing. Sometimes your discourse will fall flat, just keep going. Eventually that horrendously long, painful inner thought dialogue will end for your character and like a bumpy, organic path, it will lead to a field of wild flower ideas. You can go back and smooth out the path later for your readers, don’t get held up on this!

3) “Don’t be hard on yourself, that is what editors are for.” This brilliant quote cam from Ashley, another co-worker. And it is so true! You have to be your own advocate because noone else will be. When you complete your book your editor will find all of your mistakes (yes the ones you know about, and thousands you never realized). In fact, people will be slamming you left and right. Your job is to glean what you can from the criticism and accept varying tastes in literature… and try not to break their up-turned noses.

My guess is that the most important discourse you have as an author is the one you have with yourself. If you keep seeing failure in everything your characters say.. they will fail and so will your story. Keep the line of communication open and don’t let your self doubt bully what your heart is trying to say. And most important, don’t you dare touch that backwards delete button!

Author: Rachel McKee

I love reading about everything. I'm not a book snob. Lately I have been "reading" a lot of picture books to my toddler and baby. In my past life before motherhood, I was a professional technical editor and writer.

2 thoughts on “Discourse Discussion: Avoiding Disasters”

  1. Pro tip: save everything and keep different drafts. Also, find out what the most important thing of your story is: a character, a plot, a place, a sentence, a word, a chapter, a narrative, an emotion, the opening, the ending, and make sure that is solid. Writers don't write to be elusive, so make sure what you want yourself and whomever reads it to get out of it is accomplished.


  2. This is great advice Ben. My driving force behind this idea has always been Brian (my main character) and his development. I get most frustrated when I don't give his emotions the justice they deserve; and normally it's because I am being vague (exactly like you pointed out). I will keep your pro tip in my back pocket. Thanks!



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