Welcome to another episode of my podcast.
Hey, everybody and welcome to another edition of Writer Groupie. Hi, I’m Kim and throughout most of my life thinking random and various thoughts the way I do has helped me to develop as a writer. That “what if” factor that everyone always tells you about. And yes, I just made air quotes around “what if”.
Sorry that I am not doing video so that you can see it. But I digress.
This deep thinking for most or all of us is a part of the human process. Sometimes that deep thought thing can get us into trouble. We begin to act upon some of them, and that well, that can be a bad thing. But for the most part, we think about random things all the time such as what will I wear, what will I eat, who will I do something with tonight, why did my boss just roll his eyes at me, and so on and on.
When the thinking process becomes troublesome, well, that my dear ones is when thinking becomes OVERTHINKING.
This can also happen to a writer in big and uncomfortable ways.
For instance, if you are a writer, have you ever thought, wow, wonder what my character will do if they must endure this ____ (yes, again with the air quotes) ___and then as you play it out in your mind you get off on a tangent? When I wrote the scene in my first Shannon Wallace mystery about sending her to a funeral, I had to walk all the way through it mentally first. It was hard you see because recently I had been to several funerals and they were painful experiences personally. Before the end of my thoughts about my character I began reliving my own experiences and it was not pleasant. I almost didn’t write that scene. But when I realized that I was overthinking about it, and stepped away from it for a while the writing went a lot better.
So, my word to you is: if writing starts with thinking and thinking leads to re-enacting then it might be better to leave that writing for another day.
Another way we overthink our writing is when we write a scene that is completely filled with exact details or minutiae that is unnecessary. I will give you an example.
IN the scene the character wakes up, gets out of bed, goes to the bathroom, pulls on clothes, go to the kitchen, starts a pot of coffee and sits down to write out a check to the landlord. It might go like this:
She rolled over and stared at her house shoes lying on the floor, it would be a small thing to just slide into them. She slides into them. She stood straight and stretched before walking into the small bathroom just off the bedroom to splash water on her face. Then she strolled into the kitchen to turn on the ancient coffeepot. While it gurgled to life, she sat at her roll-top desk, pulled out a pen and her checkbook and wrote out that delinquent check to old Mr. Tom, the landlord.
Now-there is nothing wrong with that paragraph, technically, well okay maybe some grammar issues as it was not edited, but I mean you could write it that way. I think you could be a whole lot better with it though since I really overthought what my mind was seeing, and just say:
She slid into her house shoes, went into the bathroom, splashed water on her face, started coffee, and wrote out the check to the landlord, Mr. Tom.
And by the way, since we are overthinking this bit, why is he old Mr. Tom? Why did she have to think about sliding into her shoes? Yes, you can totally see what I mean. But that is exactly it. Overthinking. It can be a bad thing. But it can be a good thing. Especially if you are about to be a speaker at a writing event such as what I am doing today. You have to plan out what you will say. You should analyze it for a long time so that you do not totally go up in front of a captive audience and embarrass yourself.
Which is what I am going to do in just a few moments. Thank you for listening to my quickie flyby episode today. I am working on getting this podcast back on its feet soon and we may begin doing google hangouts instead of one on ones. I know that thrills your souls. Hang on groupies, I will be back soon with more good stuff.