“If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?”-- Albert Einstein
Hah! Nor would it be called “writing.” *wink* We are mad scientists of the written word. We start with the germ of an idea… “What if…?” and begin our process of experimentation. Set the stage, shove in the players and let’s see what dastardly circumstances we can conjure up. Pit falls and red herrings, misdirection and misconception, we’re more than ready to throw every obstacle in our character’s way. Happily Ever After becomes the cheese dangling at the end of the maze.
Yet strangely enough, the kinship we feel with our characters blossoms out of a shared struggle. Both fictional characters and author are racing down one blind corridor after another. The distinctions blur. It becomes impossible to discern who needs that Happy Ending more, the hero and heroine or the author herself. The struggle for a resolution is shared, and just as our heroes and heroines need an extra push, so do we. In our wacky experiment, the perfect ending is as enticing and as elusive as that fragrant end-of-the-maze cheese.
“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” –Albert Einstein
Deadlines, markets, editing and endless rewrites, all are obstacles that every author must face. Yet, it could be that our biggest obstacle is really our own damn selves. When the pressure of pushing forward becomes too intense we’re sorely tempted to pull away. To let go the effort. To even… *gasp* give up. And, if we’re going to be realistic, sometimes the only way to renew our faith is to retreat for a time. Retreat, rather than surrender. Approach the knotty problem from another direction, sometimes that’s all it takes to find the solution.
“You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created.” Albert Einstein
So writers then must balance between pushing forward and knowing when to pull back just enough to revitalize our spirit.
Plus, of course, there’s one nagging little issue. We’ve covered this before but it bears repeating. Writers Create Something Out of Nothing. And in the barest beginning of our experimentation, the idea may seem a little… well… Out There.
“If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.” Albert Einstein
One of the trickiest dilemmas that aspiring-to-be-published writers experience is to magically discover somewhere deep in the cavern of imagination The Utterly Brilliant and Unique Idea. No matter how agents will assure you that Great Writing Tops All, the truth is, unless you’ve dreamed up that one-of-a-kind twist and offbeat hook, they’ll toss your query aside without a qualm. *shakes fist* So… Give your imagination free rein! Imagine a world where the absurd rules. As actors are often told—Play it big, then pull back. When the story is being created, brainstorm first. Second-guess later.
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” Albert Einstein
Questions will often take you farther than answers ever will. Which is why so many writers love techniques like the “character interview.” Remember, in fiction, there’s no handy answer guide. There’s no blueprint to follow. You’re soaring on wings of imagination and there are no limits. After reading an article on poltergeists and telekinetic activity being linked to adolescent girls, Stephen King’s mind lingered on his own experiences in school. How certain girls were singled out and picked on. Teased, bullied, pushed around… What if a young girl’s angst exploded in telekinetic activity? What might she do? Scary thoughts, yet the speculation led to a published (and bestselling) novel.
Yet sometimes we do worry. We wonder if it’s worth it. Wonder if we can write one more page, send out one more query, come up with one more idea. This is a quandary we all relate to. Writing is exhilarating but also exhausting. My idea is this… Remember the old saying that the journey is the destination? There’s something to that. What is our end goal here? I say that every story we write enriches our lives. Every page we finish and every idea we explore. We are stronger and more creative as a result. So… even if just for a week or even a day, let’s try something new…
“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” Albert Einstein
Let’s recognize that our writing is valuable. Let’s open up each document and think how incredible a gift we have—we write. We Create. We are the Magic-Makers. We are writers…