Whiteout! Navigating a Storm of Information

Six hours on the highway and what do I remember most about Sunday’s trip? The couple hours making our way through a near whiteout.

Wind drove the snow horizontally at us, at times obliterating the scenery and obscuring the road. We crawled along until, with a swirl, the snow would be whipped thin and we would catch glimpses of the vehicles ahead of us.

As we cautiously descended the mountainous route, weather and road conditions improved until once again things were in focus and we could relax and enjoy the trip.

There are times when I study the writing advice offered by many experienced authors and industry professionals and begin to feel as if I’m in an informational whiteout. With words of good counsel coming at me from every direction it’s sometimes hard to discern the best route.

A cautious and common sense approach applies here, too.

  • Consider the source

Not all self-promoted sources are equally qualified to offer advice. Some information should be taken as opinion based on personal experience… experience that may not be the professional norm. I look to successful authors, agents and editors for recommendations.

  • Balance information with application

We can be blinded by reams of information from books, blogs, speakers and critiquers. Better to alternate research with writing, putting information into practice as we discover what best applies to our writing style.

  • Trust your instincts

As their creator we should know what we want our stories to accomplish. Once we’ve learned the basics of good writing, completed a few novels and shared them with appropriate readers for feedback, it’s time to evaluate suggestions and advice.  Not every recommendation will fit with our purpose. We must learn to depend on the judgment of a trusted editor or agent, but also on our own instincts.

These are my basic guidelines for navigating an overwhelming storm of writing information. What else have you found important?


10 thoughts on “Whiteout! Navigating a Storm of Information

  1. Terri Tffany says:

    That road would have freaked me out!! I hate driving in snow:)
    As to writing, I’ve felt that way too, wondering which direction to take sometimes and have learned to trust my gut more once I’ve written many books and used editor feedback.

  2. Judith Robl says:

    Psalm 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.

    When in doubt, ask God. Better still, before there is doubt, ask God. Listening to his plans and itinerary for your life will keep you on a good road at all times. It may be whiteout conditions, but he will always bring you through it safely.

    Praying over writing projects helps. At least it’s helped me so far. And I don’t expect that to change – ever. We have an immutable God.

  3. Judith Robl says:

    Oops. Meant to document (KJV) in above post.

    And I don’t like driving in snow, on ice, or in mountainous terrain, and not over long bridges, either. I’m one hot-house pansy in that respect.

  4. Shari Green says:

    I love your idea of alternating taking in info with applying it. I’m sure I’d get overwhelmed if I tried to take in too much at once, and then what good is that? (As you know, I’ve been focusing on learning about plot and structure lately, and have been trying to apply this to my WIP. Now, I’m thinking I need to study characterization, but I’m not going to jump into that just yet, because I don’t feel I’ve got a good grasp on the plot stuff I’ve been trying to learn — invite too much more info into my head now, and the plot stuff is likely to fly away!)

  5. That looks very frightening, Carol! I’m glad you made it okay. With publishing advice, I tend to try and narrow my focus. I find out what one particular agent/editor likes and try to shut everything else out.

  6. I’ve driven in white-out conditions. It is scary. I’m glad you were able to make it through safely. God is good.

    I can’t seem to get back into my novel even though I felt that fixing my problem was easily doable, and that the advice I got was right. I completely changed the first chapters, closed it, intending to check out the rest of it the next day. I’m not sure if it’s just not the right time for me to work on it or if I have subconsciously shut the door on it. Blessings to you, Carol…

  7. joylene says:

    You’re so right, Carol. You need to trust your instincts, otherwise you’ll go mad with all the information out there. Deep breaths help. Lovely pics. Glad you’re home safe and sound.

  8. Laura Best says:

    As time goes on I’m beginning to wonder if trusting my own instinct (which is exactly what I always did in the past) isn’t the best way to go. I think for a time I lost that. I’m not sure why. But right now I’m committing to writing the way I want to without trying to second guess what I think someone else might like.
    That’s not me.

    Those photos are SCARY!

  9. ali says:

    Wow, fantastic pictures! Great advice too. I especially like the “consider the source” one. But I’m drawing a blank for anything you missed. 😛

    Love your blog!

  10. Thanks for all the great comments and your ideas for surviving information overload. I pray about my projects, too, Judith… a lot. A pilot to guide both my writing and my life is indispensable.

    I’m glad everyone enjoyed the photos of our trip. We continue to have more snow here at home, a few inches at a time, and I can’t ever remember snow in March. I’m more than ready for spring so am hoping for a weather turnaround very soon.

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