Please welcome our guest Amy Sue Nathan. Her new novel, The Good Neighbor, will be published tomorrow by St. Martin’s Griffin. She launched the award-winning Women’s Fiction Writers blog in 2011 where she has interviewed more than 150 authors. Amy has two grown children (her favorite oxymoron) and lives near Chicago where she’s writing her third novel.
I really got stuck on my third novel for a while because I heard all these other voices in my head and didn’t trust my own instincts, even though I was devoted to, and loved, the story and characters. I had to teach myself to trust my own damn self and just write.
Writer, Trust Thyself [or How (And Why) To Perform a Writer Gut-Check]
Before I leave the house I ask myself three questions:
Is the stove off?
Is the iron unplugged?
Are the dogs inside?
Three yes answers get me out the door.
I realized I needed to trust myself more or my third novel wouldn’t get written – or it would, but it wouldn’t be the book of my heart I felt it could be.
I should trust that these things are the way they’re supposed to be because I’ve never missed one, not yet anyway. But, asking and checking are musts—reassurances that allow me to move forward without worry. On days I’ve forgotten to check any of these, I’ll be honest, I go back into house. I’ve even driven around the block for the occasional did-I-shut-the-garage check. And I’ve been known to ask a friend to peek into the backyard while I’m out—just in case.
Doubting that I’ve done the right thing leads to a lot of wasted time, to doubling back, pulling over, racking my brain. I’ve learned to preempt this preoccupation by having these household checks as part of my routine.
These checks save time and maintain sanity—two things also crucial for my writing.
Except with writing, it’s more of a gut check—a feelings inventory bereft of knobs and plugs and sliding doors. It’s not quite as straightforward, but necessary in order for me to move on with my work without doubling back, over-thinking, and therefore under-performing. [Read more…]