"Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue… And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true…" --Harold Arlen & E.Y. Harburg
Do you believe in magic? Since my wild and exuberant youth, my curiosity has always been tinged with an underlying and fervent belief in magic. As a child, I stared in mirrors, scooting as close to the glass as possible, hoping for a glimpse into the 'other world' I was certain existed somewhere, somehow.
Perhaps this is what drove me and countless others to write. The awareness that there is more to reality than what we perceive. There are inner worlds we must explore through our creation. Call me crazy but I believe the land of Pern—constructed within the delightful mind of Anne McCaffrey—exists as surely as any so-called 'real' memory I've ever cherished. What is the past but a memory? What is the future but a dream? The only true reality is this exact moment. From that perspective, you and I hold the power within our imagination to create any world as real as this one.
Hmmm. Food for thought.
We are the music makers.
We are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;--
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world forever, it seems.--Arthur O'Shaughnessy (Ode)
Still… writing takes effort. Not only the sheer physical stamina required to pound those keys for hours at a time, but the perseverance and courage to push past our blocks, our fears, our insecurity and past the expectations from others. It's an intriguing quandary every artist faces.
The joyful exuberance springing from the idea of creation coupled with the internal struggle resulting from the act of creating.
I think there are two keys to being creatively productive. One is not being daunted by one's fear of failure. The second is sheer perseverance.--Mary-Claire King
The greatest masterpieces were once only pigments on a palette.--Henry S. Hoskins
Trouble is the effort sometimes casts a shadow over the exhilaration. Even worse, our apprehension can make our fingers freeze in their tracks. Here's two thoughts to help move past the fear.
First, reawaken the magic within.
When we are writing, or painting, or composing, we are, during the time of creativity, freed from normal restrictions, and are opened to a wider world, where colors are brighter, sounds clearer, and people more wondrously complex than we normally realize.--Madeleine L'Engle (Walking on Water)
Instead of worrying about the length of your book or whether the chapters are snappy enough, focus on the heart of your story. Invest some of those writing hours in dreaming about your story. Whether you're penning a sensual romance or dark paranormal, you are crafting your own world. In order to make it real, you must live in it at least part of the time. The more you focus on your story, the more concrete your world becomes. This is why a great way to get unstuck is to 'free-write' about your idea. Write about unexpected encounters and fanciful scenes outside of the story but within your novel's world. Or just let loose with a stream-of-consciousness flow where you explore a variety of 'what ifs'. Since the actual process of writing can sometimes require us to shift into a mechanical mode, we need to consciously and purposefully ignite the flame within our souls. Say it with me: I'm Creating A World!
Your world. Your characters. This your creation and you can do exactly what you want.
Which leads to our second thought.
This Is Your World.
When you take charge of your life, there is no longer need to ask permission of other people or society at large. When you ask permission, you give someone veto power over your life.--Geoffrey F. Abert
It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.--Herman Melville
It's one of life's greatest ironies that people continue to believe they know how to write your book. Whether it's friends or loved ones, crit partners or publishers, every author has encountered someone who 'knows better.'
They don't. Not to say we shouldn't take in all suggestions and weigh them carefully. Feedback is vital when learning how to craft a book. However the ideas are yours alone. The hardest books to write are those based on the thought, "I could write a book like That Author did!" Many first time authors start off that way (I certainly did). Not until book two, three, or four, do they begin to write their own books. Yet even long-time authors feel the pinch of expectation. As the market ebbs and wanes, professionals chime in with their own ideas of what works and what doesn't. If the expectations spark excitement, that's good. However, if you find your enthusiasm flagging and frustration growing it could be because you've stepped away from your book and began to write someone else's.
This Is Your World.
Every author wants to compose a story that elicits giggles or tears and sweeps a reader away. I've said it before and I'll say it again—write first, edit later.
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.--Scott Adams
Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.--Mary Lou Cook
You need three qualities most of all:
Passion, patience, and perseverance.
Passion—the tingle of wonderment at the magic you are creating—is essential. Unless you're excited about the story, no matter how brilliantly crafted, your story will leave others cold. Remember, delve into your tale even when you're not writing. Pump up that excitement!
Patience. Yes, we'll get frustrated, bored and restless. Keep writing anyway. *wink*
Perseverance. Writing is a marathon, not a sprint. The triumph comes when we cross that finish line.
Most of all, have fun! After all, if it's not fun, why do it? Sometimes coloring outside the lines is just the thing. Not only can it spark fabulous and unique ideas, when we stretch our imagination we experience a sense of liberation. This is Your World. Explore the outer edges even if your story will be centered in the middle. You need to know what lies in the shadows, whether you include that in your story or not.
When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on Earth. So what the hell, leap!--Peter McWilliams
So… ready to begin a new week?
All glory comes from daring to begin.--Eugene F. Ware
Speaking of Worlds, any fictional worlds you are particularly fond of? As a child, I probably spent more time in Oz than the real world. As mentioned, I'm also an inhabitant of the Land of Pern and invested many hours in the Piers Anthony's Land of Xanth. How about you?
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Check out Jenny Crusie's great post on Reality & Publishing (thanks Kathy!): Rats With Islands: How to Survive Your Publishing Career.