Stubborn Writer’s Tantrums

Have you ever seen a two year old tantrum? The amount of energy they expend in their screaming and body stomping is incredible. Just try picking them up in the middle of a tantrum…get ready for a bruise or two.

Kids go through a stubborn stage in preschool that is intense. As parents we pray everyone will survive it and most of all we never give in.

What inspires such tantrums? The desire to have their way. Sometimes what they want isn’t all bad, but the timing or quantity makes it a bad choice.

As writer’s sometimes we go through a stubborn phase. You know that moment when you decide to ignore the rules and the voices around you to reach for uniqueness?

Sometimes that stubbornness is for good reason to protect our voice, but more often it is the ache of letting go of something we love whether it is right or wrong.

How do you determine if your stubbornness is to protect your voice or merely a stubborn desire to hold on to something you love? 

*Consider the Source. Does the source that has recommended change have the skills to know what they are talking about? If so, you should consider the recommendation more carefully.

*Pray about the advice to determine if it changes the story God gave you to write. Does it impact the spiritual truth you feel is meant to be revealed in your novel?

*Analyze Other Novels in Your Genre. Take a look at that particular element of other novels in your genre. Does your analysis match the recommendation or oppose it?

*Get a Second Opinion from a Reliable Source. If you are diagnosed with a deadly disease, you get a second opinion. Diagnosing problems in your novel should be no different. Ask someone with skill in this area to give you their opinion.

*Does It Break The Rules Of Your Fiction Genre?  Sometimes we can break the rules, but the newer the writer the fewer the rules you can afford to break if you want to be published.

*Does It Change Your Voice? Voice is the combination of word choice, sentence structure, pacing and rhythm to your writing. Have an objective reader look at your work with a before and after. Ask them if they think it is the same writer and which one they like better. Make sure this individual is a skilled writer.

Find a few reliable writing craft sources or blogs that can help you analyze the validity of the recommendation. Here are a few of my favorites:

The end goal as a writer is publication. If something that you are being stubborn about is keeping you from being published, make sure that your reason for avoiding the change is to protect your voice or the story truth that you feel God intended for you to write.

How do you determine if you’re being stubborn to protect your voice or just because you don’t want to let go of something you love?


About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

8 thoughts on “Stubborn Writer’s Tantrums

  1. When three writing people I admire and respect suggest the same thing…and when I get a contest entry back that basically says the same thing the other 3 said…well, you know it’s time. lol

  2. Michelle Lim says:

    Great litmus test, Pat!

  3. Lisa Jordan says:

    I look to the source. When my editor or agent suggests a change, I make it because they know a lot more about the business than I do. When my critique partners suggest changes, I consider the changes and see if their way makes the story stronger, or if I need to stay strong and keep it my way.

    And I totally hear you on the temper tantrum front, girl. It’s a daily occurrence at my house.

  4. Melissa Tagg says:

    I would actually say writing is the one area in my life in which I’m probably least stubborn – at least when it comes to making changes. Because I am constantly seeing writing and stories I admire and I soooo want to get better and better. So I’m willing to tear apart a scene if a good source (or especially several sources) recommend it. Heck, I’ve torn apart 2/3 of a book! But I’ve always learned in the process, and in the end, it’s worth it.

    For me, my temper tantrums over writing are more directed at myself and at my characters when they don’t do what I want. 🙂

    I loved your advice, though, on knowing when to let go and make the change!

  5. Michelle Lim says:

    Thanks, Melissa! I think there are a lot of us writers who are tough on ourselves. Patience with ourselves is sometimes more difficult when we want to be published and are willing to work hard. It just seems that the journey is long. But hang in there and don’t beat yourself up too much!

  6. stacymm says:

    How come it seems that the parts people suggest changing are the parts you absolutely love most?!? But good suggestion to consider the source. I’m always willing to consider someone’s feedback. I just have to decide if the change will actually make the writing stronger. There’s the rub!

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