Check out this great piece by K.M. Weiland, readers:
7 Steps to Stop Overthinking Your Writing
It’s a question I’ve received countless times from readers over the years—and one I’ve found myself asking of late as well: How do you stop overthinking your writing?
Writers are often known as thinkers. Indeed, we’re often proud of the connotation. We spend a lot of time in our heads. We love to read. We research like we love it (because we do). And we know a lot (though usually not quite as much as we think we do).
However, thinking and writing—especially creative writing such as storytelling—can sometimes seem strangely out of balance. As much as writers may identify as thinkers, we usually prefer the actual act of writing to be less about thinking and more about flowing.
What we’re talking about is “thinking” in the sense of active and logical thinking. Naturally, we are thinking when the words are flowing, but in those moments it often seems less that we are thinking the thoughts and more that the thoughts are thinking us. When we take too much control, it ceases to work that way.
And that’s a problem—because the more a writer learns about how to write and how stories work, the more conscious our thinking becomes. Sometimes this reaches the crisis where writing becomes a lot of work simply because we are doing all the work. We’re the ones doing all the thinking, rather than just being the conduit and letting the thoughts think us.
Susan Geiger recently messaged me on Patreon about this all-too-common conundrum:
I have a problem, a serious one: I am too serious. I love writing and stories in general. However, I have thought so much about plot development, character arcs, theme, story structure, etc., that I’m a bit uptight when I write. I have effectively zapped the joy out of it. I am so tense when I write and put so much pressure on myself that my serious attitude has leaked into the writing itself, leaving the story utterly humorless. If you have any advice on how to relax and lighten up in writing again, I would greatly appreciate it.
Not long after, I received a similar email from David Fraser:
Have noticed my tendency to over-complicate. Overthink. Maybe you would consider writing a post…
I figured I better write the post! If nothing else, maybe I’ll learn a thing or two myself. 😉