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Too Much of a Good Thing?

by Sherri Stone

As a relatively new and pre-published writer I have spent my first year in ACFW trying to soak up and follow every last drop of writing advice I’ve received from my fellow members this year. Frankly, I’ve found it tremendously overwhelming. My problem has been that of many beginners: 1) I didn’t know enough to ask intelligent questions, and 2) I had no filter to sort through advice and help me decide what to keep and follow and what to discard or put aside for another time.

The clutter of everything from social media to reading blog posts and participating in online courses, just to name a few, was beginning to make me feel like Thanksgiving afternoon after lunch at my mom’s: uncomfortably full of too many good things (because I didn’t want to miss anything), and unable to function very well.

•Sometimes we need to push away from the bounty and just digest.

That’s what I’m doing right now: digesting and practicing. I have stopped worrying about being ready in time for the next contest or conference. I’ve stopped looking at deadlines all together. My priority this year is to rewrite my story and polish it – with help – until it shines. Then I’ll worry about contests and queries.

I’m doing the writer’s equivalent of spring cleaning. I’m cutting down on emails groups and blogs that come to me automatically, not because they’re not good, but because I’m feeling cluttered and closed in and that’s not helping my creativity.

Of all the advice I’ve read the most consistent is to FIRST write an excellent story.

That’s my goal for this year.

I’m an orderly soul. I love cleaning out closets and drawers and making them functional and pretty. I especially love starting a new year with a home that has been purged of junk – top to bottom. I love the fresh starts for new routines, just to see if I can make it work this year.

For 2013 I have purged my list of goals to a new writing schedule and a reading list of craft books. I’m also determined to slow down and move at a different pace with a better focus. That’s okay! We each have a unique writing journey. I don’t want to miss a single blessing of mine because I’m trying so hard to walk a path intended for someone else.

Being new can be great fun. It’s exciting and energizing and like a kid in a candy store you just want one of everything. The problem is one of everything can make you sick. If you’re new and like me, you need to learn to pace yourself. Savor and explore, and sometimes just sit down and rest. Get your bearings. Take a second lap around the pond.

Listen in the quiet for the voice of God.

Grace and peace on your writing journey through 2013.


Sherri Stone is a medical social worker with hospice. She is learning about fiction writing, but is also collaborating with her hospice chaplain on a book about the hospice experience. This is her second year with ACFW. Connect with her at www.sherristone.net or http://www.facebook.com/sherrilynnestone or on Twitter @sherristone2.

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4 Responses to Too Much of a Good Thing?

  1. Anna Labno says:

    Hi Sherri,

    I have a different problem than you. I read a lot of books about the craft of writing, and I can’t seem to stop. I listen to workshops in my car from the last conference. When I write, I turn the editor on. I can’t meet my word count. But I promised myself to finish the book this year and polish what I can. So I will read less hopefully and write more! And yes, too much everything can make you sick.

  2. Excellent advice, Sherri.

  3. Sherri says:

    Anna and Patricia thanks for your comments. Sorry to be so late in responding – just got back from a meeting in Atlanta.

    It’s all a matter of perspective and balance, isn’t it? Best wishes to both of you as you continue to learn and write.

  4. Sorry to be late in reading this post. So glad I left it in my inbox. It speaks to me.