Friday, November 24, 2017

Creating More Than Just A Story

Shannon Dittemore is the author of the Angel Eyes novels. She has an overactive imagination and a passion for truth. Her lifelong journey to combine the two is responsible for a stint at Portland Bible College, performances with local theater companies, and an affinity for mentoring teen writers. Since 2013, Shannon has taught mentoring tracks at a local school where she provides junior high and high school students with an introduction to writing and the publishing industry. For more about Shan, check out her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest

Posting a blog the day after Thanksgiving always falls to me and, in some ways, it feels like a futile effort. Most of you are enjoying your friends and family and a day away from anything resembling work. And, let's be real, writing can definitely resemble work.

I was fighting hard to get a book ready for submission when November rolled around, so I didn't participate in National Novel Writing Month this year, but I know only too well how it feels to be at the end of a long stretch of writing days, counting down the sessions until you can breathe again, wishing with every strike of the keyboard that you could find the passion that burned so brightly when you began, and feeling like every word you put on the page serves only to meet a quota.

At this point, it stops being fun.

I know. I've been there. But I want to encourage you. You're not JUST meeting a quota. You're not JUST fighting to get words on the page. You're enduring. You're pushing through the fatigue. You're working when your body says it's pointless. You're teaching yourself that you can do hard things.

And this truth is something that cannot be gifted by external knowledge. You can't absorb it by osmosis. You have to live it. You have to hit the wall so you can knock it down. You have to face monotony, so you can flex your muscles and turn it into the shimmering diamond of discipline. 

You're in the process of creating an author, not JUST a story.


The daily writers, the deadline writers, the "I couldn't stop if I tried" writers; all of us have to grow our endurance. It takes intention and time in seclusion (which might be the hardest aspect for some of you). But, like any discipline, if you continue on despite hardship, you will grow.

And there's this other truth too. One you must hold in tension with the grinding out of words. If you're doing the other part of your job as a writer--the living--those futile words you feel you're just throwing out there to meet some pre-established word count number? Those words might surprise you. 

Living has a way of planting seeds in our soul. Seeds of truth and experience and philosophy. Seeds of conflict and angst and the kind of confusion that writers puzzle out best on the page. Living has a way of infusing potential into words harvested even in the most barren of writing seasons. Writers who take living seriously fill their souls with so many rich moments that when they're forced to dig deep, they're just as likely to pull up a prize winning cabbage as they are a dreary, miserable weed.   

It may not feel like it at the time, but push through. Fight. Harvest words. Get them on the page. When you return to them, I wonder if you'll be at all impressed with what landed there? Maybe not. Maybe this sentence and that were about producing endurance. But THIS sentence? Maybe this one is worth holding onto. Maybe this one is worth examining more closely.

And you never would have written it if you hadn't flexed those writing muscles, dug deep, and pushed through when phantom voices were telling you to give up.

When you sit down to write, you're not just sculpting a beginning, middle, and end. You're building something much more powerful, my friend. You're creating a storyteller.

And THAT is worth a little hardship.

Because storytellers change the world.

20 comments:

  1. This is beautiful, Shannon. Thank you. I’m trying to remember this truth right now, as I slog through editing a story that I never /meant/ to write (it’s a long story XD). This post was very timely for me.

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    1. I'm so glad, friend! Slogging is certainly part of the journey. I wish you much luck.

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  2. Wow Shannon, thank you so much for this encouragement! It is much needed in the final days of NaNoWriMo...

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  3. Wow, This is beautiful and encouraging, Shannon! Thanks for pushing through and writing it. ;)

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  4. "You're in the process of creating an author, not JUST a story." *applauds* This is beautiful, Shannon! I half wasn't even expecting a post today, and then I checked and - WOW! I found one of the best posts of the year. It's great to hear this especially as Nano grows old and then barrels into the holidays and it's easy to want to quit. But these are very wise and encouraging words - thank you! I hope that you had a great Thanksgiving, and that you and your family have a wonderful holiday season!

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    1. I did have a wonderful Thanksgiving, thank you. I wish you so much joy in your writing road, girl.

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  5. Wow, Shan. What an amazing post. This is why we keep you in the day-after-Thanksgiving slot, because there's NO WAY I had the brain power to write anything like this!

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    1. I doubt that, but the discipline is good for me. I'm creating an author too.

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  6. THIS! I needed this. You have no idea how inspiring these words are. Many thanks for writing them!

    ~J

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  7. Awesome post! I'm not doing NaNoWriMo, but I am going to add up my month's word count just to see how far I've come. I was running out of steam, but this post makes me want to dive right back in. Thank you!

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    1. Yes! Splash away, friend. Dive deep and drag some words up with you.

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  8. Wow. This is beautiful. I've been working on the same story for over a year now, and no matter how long I work on it and edit it, it just seems like it doesn't want to come together. The only reason I've kept working on it this long is because I want the world to hear what I have to say. But this post gave me renewed encouragement and motivation. Thank you!!

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    1. That makes my heart happy. I feel like the longer I write, the longer it takes me to finish, so I totally understand. Wishing you the absolute best.

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  9. This is really encouraging for my NaNo series I’m “spitting” out right now. I know there’s going to be soooo much work, especially as I didn’t plot. But I know this still needs done 😁

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  10. Yet another "just what I needed to hear" post! (There's been a few of those lately.) Thank you so much!

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    1. Oh, I'm so glad! Thank you for being so fantastic.

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