Wednesday, March 9, 2011


I studied Art History in college. It's an interesting major because, essentially, my entire education was learning how to break down this-

-into context, motive, design, color, theme, etc. While I absolutely loved every second of my education, I have found this to be an obstacle in my writing. I find myself dissecting -and when I say dissecting I mean picking to death- my word choices, my characters, even my idea:

Why am I writing this? What is her voice? Will this book make a positive difference in the world? Should I put a wood nymph here?? WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE??? *sobs*

Then I have to snap myself out of my existential rut and remind myself I am supposed to be having fun.

Am I the only one who over thinks things? What are your motives for writing?


D U Okonkwo said...

LOL - Nope you're definitely not eh only one who thinks this! From anyone coming from any perspective - especially one where you've had to analyse many things, this makes sense. And analysing makes for great story structure because everything will add up and makes sense. Less loopholes that way :)

Candice said...

I loved my art history class. And I definitely feel like I over think things. That's why I move at a snail's pace so often. The problem is that I get to the end and realize one of my perfectly crafted scenes has to be cut to make the story flow. It's painful. It would be better if I could just get the first draft out and then let my obsessiveness take over in edits and Beta revisions.

Miriam S. Forster said...

Overthinking FTW!

That's why I absolutely have to write a fast, sloppy first draft. If I give myself any time to think about it, I fall down that exact hole.

Once the first draft is done, it's just a matter of discovering what I've already written and that's easier.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

I over think things as well. It drives me crazy sometimes! I go very slow with my first drafts because if I read something I wrote that doesn't make sense, I don't wait to finish the book to fix it. In other words, I edit as I go. I need to work on just getting that first draft written and then stress about everything else!

Romantisch Hotel Bruges said...

Oh really great images and I really love this post.

R.S.J. said...

As writer's, it is our job to over think. All that thinking makes good books. :)

KLM said...

I think it's wonderfully laudable that you think about whether a project is worthwhile while writing it. OK, so yeah, too much self-editing can be a handicap but so often I see writers reference their "compulsion" to write, and and I think "So what? Some people have a compulsion to collect Barbie dolls? Why should that sway someone to care about what you're doing?" I actually gave up writing for a time because I believed I shouldn't be inflicting my desire to write on anyone if what I wrote wasn't any good. Why clutter up the world with more useless crap? Maybe I'd be better off volunteering at a soup kitchen every time I felt the urge to write.

Of course I then realized maybe I was being too hard on myself. Every act of writing is one part selfishness ("I write just cuz I wanna do it!") and some smaller percentage of altruistic desire to bring worthwhile art into the world. Dissecting your motives and word choices shows you're thinking about what the reader's experience might be and that's never a bad thing.

Toyin O. said...

It is okay to overthink, without the ability to think, you would not make a good writer:)

Diana said...

DUO- Good point. I sure hope, anyway, that is the effect of all this thinking :)

Candice- Isn't Art History the greatest? Too bad there is very little to actually do with a degree in Art History, except enjoy art , which I am VERY good at btw ;)

Miriam- That is what Renee always tells me too. You smart writer women!

Chantele- I was the same way in college with my papers...which was a problem when I had a ten pager due the next day and at three a.m. all I had was two very good pages and nothing else! Ah sweet memories :)

R.H.B. - Thanks! Gotta love de Kooning!

Ruth- Fingers crossed!!

KLM- Very VERY well said! And, who knows, maybe something I write may do some small good for someone one day.

Toyin- Thanks! Let’s hope my jumbled frantic mind can be useful in the end!

Lola Sharp said...

You are not alone.

Not. Alone.


Bethany Mason said...

Have felt this so many times - have tried each time to walk away from writing but it always comes back to haunt me. Am beginning to realise that perhaps I can't walk away when the questions I can't answer get too tough, but am also learning that ignoring them can work wonders!

Jenn Johansson said...

I think overthinking is a big problem for writers. Sometimes it works and it helps... other times it just mucks up the process and you have to follow your instincts. The trick is to figure out how to tell the difference.

Let me know if you figure out how. ;)