Swim for New Horizons
In writing, we are often faced with a choice. You reach a point and you have to question whether or not the ship that you’re writing is sinking, and if you should go down with it too. It’s in no way a reflection on your abilities as a writer, but sometimes your ideas don’t work out. You have a brilliant idea for a novel, you get part-way through writing it and you realise that the plot doesn’t work, it’s not something that you’re able to write well and convincingly or whatever reason why, and it isn’t working.
When you’re faced with the situation it’s quite a daunting prospect. It’s very easy to bury your head in the sand and keep trying. This is particularly a problem when you have an emotional attachment to what you’re working on. I’ve started writing books and a few chapters in I’ve decided it wasn’t working out and I scrapped it and moved onto something else. I’ve also had some series that I’ve kept going for much longer than I should have because I didn’t want to let go of what I’d created.
But we have to let go. We have to detach ourselves from our work and look at things objectively.
You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.
I wrote a series of books that I am now working on rewriting. Just about everything that I loved about the originals has been stripped away and it’s almost a completely different book. When I read back my new stuff, generally speaking, I hate it. I hate that other people like it. I’m having an impact on people with this new writing and all I can think about is how it isn’t the original. But, sometimes, we have to let go.
Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
T. S. Elliot
I was stuck in a rut when I finished my series. I was working on something else and it was written in almost exactly the same way. Not just that the style was the same but that the writing in either pieces of work could very easily be interchanged and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. And what I was writing wasn’t very good. I’m now writing some of the best things I’ve ever written; I’m coming up with ideas for the story that I never would have done beforehand and it’s all down to one thing. Somehow, I managed to find whatever it was that I needed, to let go.
To grow as a writer you need to evolve, you need to try new things. Things that are hard, scary or intimidating. You need to lose sight of the shore and swim for new horizons. It’s the only way that you’ll get better, truly better. Whether or not it’s a chapter, a novel, a series or your entire style of writing, if you start to get an inkling that something isn’t working, you need to move forward and be open to new experiences.
© 2017 David Chitty
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
David Chitty was born and raised in Thanet in the 90s. He devotes most of his energies to writing fantasy fiction novels.