Story Attachment Syndrome (SAS), as I like to call it, is similar to Helicopter parenting. And for those of you unfamiliar with the term, I’ll paraphrase. Helicopter parents hover over their children in a state of extreme concern, protect them from real or imagined harm, resolve stressful situations and get them out of trouble, even if they misbehave. Experts say overprotective parents hinder a child’s ability to grow into mature and responsible adults.
Writers often behave in a similar pattern when it comes to writing a story close to the heart. Our stories are our babies. We know them inside and out or think we do, and don’t want anyone else telling us a scene, character or, God forbid, the whole plot isn’t working. They hover, protect and refuse to accept constructive feedback, make revisions or edits, even when doing so would make the story stronger.
We’ve all been there at some point in our writing journey, but the key to finding a cure, as with anything, is to recognize we have a problem. SAS is no respecter of persons and can affect writers of all levels of experience. Long-term effects cause less confidence, a floundering work in progress (WIP), sense of hopelessness causing one to stuff the WIP in a drawer in defeat, or arrogance and sending a poorly written story to the world.
You Might be Suffering from SAS if:
- You have a manuscript or story you’re struggling to complete (extreme concern). Think, as in years.
- If you protect parts of your story, you know in your gut, may be detrimental to the story as a whole.
- You insist certain scenes or characters are essential to your story, despite feedback they need revision or not working.
- You avoid feedback altogether because it’s safer.
Children learn from making mistakes if we let them. So do writers. Overprotecting children or manuscripts, for the sake of avoiding failure, will result in the very thing we wish to avoid. Trial and error help us become skilled, confident writers and published authors.
Fortunately, like Helicopter parenting, SAS is curable.
How to overcome SAS?
- Step back and honestly evaluate your story or solicit the help of a trusted editor or Beta reader.
- Don’t shy away from thinking outside your plotline. Revisions are part of growing as a writer.
- Remove your protective blinders and listen to constructive feedback.
- Believe in yourself – not every story will be perfect, but practice does make perfect.
As someone who has been working on my novel, for several years, I can relate. I’ve revamped a few things in my story, changed the timeline, and scenes are in the trash.
My helicopter has landed.
If you would like more information, check out Jennifer Blanchard‘s video on story attachment.
What about you? Do you suffer from SAS? I’d love to hear your story.