Friday, May 17, 2013

BREAKTHROUGH

I've been wanting to write for a very long time now. And I don't mean blog pots---I mean actual writing-- as in a story of my own. I don't think you can read as much as I do and love reading as much a I do and not eventually, somewhere deep down, start to think that maybe you, too, have a story to tell.

The urge to write is a funny thing to a person who doesn't write. It's like a lifelong vegetarian suddenly getting a craving for pot roast. You've never eaten it before, so  it's pretty freaking strange that your body (or imagination) is telling you that you want it.

Writing has always been an awesomely cool idea to me. But having never done it before, it remains a Schrödinger's cat of mystery. If I never open the box I'll never know if I'm a good writer or a bad writer. Of course it's a defense mechanism to protect the gee-golly hope that maybe I am a good writer! This is a problem. Because unless I actually try it, my writing will not just be an unknown neutral, it will be both good AND bad, as both exist as true until proven otherwise.

But how do I try? How do I begin? Writing a story is so unbelievably daunting. How do authors know where to begin and where they want to end up? How do they craft the plot? How do they imagine all those beautiful little moments that reveal character or move the story along? How do I write a story if I don't know exactly where I want to go with it? There are so many unknowns and that is SCARY.

It was then, in this moment of panic-- that I had a moment of clarity:

Writing a story is and always will be infinitely intimidating.
So stop thinking about it that way, and find a new way to look at it:

Think about writing as taking a trip. 

When you go on vacation, you know where your initial destination is, you know who you're traveling with, and you know when you expect to return. The rest of it---the unplanned, the unknown, is THE REASON you take the trip. You'll see a new place, and have new experiences. Things will happen. By the end of the vacation, you will have amassed a story to tell. It could be dull, it could be thrilling. Either way, you will have a beginning, middle, and an end.  If you knew every detail that would unfold before you took the trip, you probably wouldn't feel the need to go anymore. The mystery of possibility makes the trip fun to live through. The same is true for the one writing the story, and the one reading the story.

We're both embarking on a trip with my characters. We know where our journey begins but we don't know what we'll go through together before we get back. We'll see new places, meet new people, be thrown into unfamiliar situations. The way we handle ourselves will inevitably reveal character. The things that happen will become plot.

Write, and things will happen. That's all there is to it.

So yesterday afternoon, lead by a force deep down in my gut that I could no longer ignore, I tried IT. Pencil to paper. Excited by possibility, terrified by expectation...

And lo and behold---
WORDS CAME OUT.

3 comments:

  1. For me writing is like illustration.

    First come up with an idea and 'sketch' it out (freewrite and see where it takes you.) Try to visualize various elements and flesh them out, and push through the fog. After a bit of doing this the plot and characters will start to take shape, which makes it easy for the next step... creating 'thumbnails' (in this case, the key points and transitions in the plot from beginning to end). Next do some research, create more 'sketches' and start to fill in details so that everything fits together contributing to the overall 'picture.'

    Now begins the rough draft (write, write, write)! Next, really start to render and gradually tighten everything up in the piece (correcting grammar, trimming wordy sentences, making the transition from one scene or conversation smoother, etc.) It's ok if things change as you go along. It also wouldn't hurt to get peer evaluations or consumer reactions at this point. Finally make a few more passes through the whole composition for cohesiveness, final details and corrections. The end!

    As the old saying goes, take every journey one step at a time...and you will find yourself suddenly at the end! Hope this was at least amusing, if not helpful.

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  2. You are so right with the writing Schrödinger's cat - it can be good and bad but as long as we don't actually try it, we have no idea how it will work out. In my head my story ideas always seems so fabulous but I have to start writing, changing and improving them to see if they are valuable enough to see the daylight (so it's not even that easy that you sit down and write - you have to work more on the story before starting to judge it). It sounds like wasting a lot of time just to decide that one's a terrible writer ;)

    BUT! I think that us, creative minds, always have stories to tell. Maybe those stories can be put in novels, maybe in comic books or even picture books without any words actually, but those stories are there, hiding somewhere in our brains and dancing with our free spirits :)

    When you write your story, will you show it for all of us to see and praise? :D

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  3. How very cool....now i'm fascinated to read this story.

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