Back in mid-December 2014 a friend wrote in a private blog post that a non-writing creative project she was working on “would go faster if I didn’t keep redesigning it.”
For me, that sounded like her subconscious popping up to slap her around a little.
Like me, she’s a proponent and practitioner of just writing off into the dark. That is, we Just Write, allowing the characters to lead us into and out of situations as they race through the story.
But sometimes we get stuck. Sometimes our critical conscious mind creeps in and tries to “save” us from making a mistake. It tells us to figure out what’s going to happen next and what direction the story is going to take and on and on and on.
Just yesterday (as I write this) I was ready to throw in the towel on the third novel in the Wes Crowley series. I was tempted to either slap an end on it and call it a novella or just stop writing it until I Figured Out Where It Was Going. And therein lay the battle: if I’m trusting my subconscious, I don’t even WANT to know where it’s going. The great Ray Bradbury himself once said (I’m paraphrasing) that nothing literary was ever created as the result of thought. But sometimes I slip. Remember, I’ve only been at this Writing Into the Dark stuff a little less than a year.
So anyway, I don’t WANT to know where my story’s going when I’m writing. When I have no clue where the story’s going, it and I are 8 or 10 years old, fresh and alive and laughing and racing through the woods naked and it’s FUN.
But when I have the story all planned out or when I otherwise keep forcing it, the the story is trudging through the woods before me at the point of my Almighty Writer’s sword, its hands cuffed behind its back, a prisoner of my conscious, critical mind. And oh yes, it WILL damned sure do what I tell it to do or else.
Sigh… folks, despite all the crap you hear pouring out of the mouths of teachers and critiquers and agents and other non-writers, the truth is, Writing is supposed to be fun, not drudgery. But when it’s all planned out as in the paragraph above, I might just as well stop, force the story to dig its own grave, and then run it through with that Almighty Writer’s sword to bring the misery to an end for both of us, because THAT is when writing is drudgery.
Now I’m gonna get back to writing my novel. 🙂 And my story of the week. 🙂 And a bunch of other stuff.
Update: As this posts, I finished the novel (and the series) and an unrelated novella and a few more short stories. 🙂 My streak continues of writing at least one new short story per week.
‘Til next time, happy, drudgery-free writing!
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4 thoughts on “A Note on the Creative Process”
Yay Harvey! I love when people practice what they preach and then live to tell about it! Congratulations on letting the characters in your novel live the life they were meant to live instead of trying to shove them into the box you were trying to create for them. It’s so much more fun that way, you’re absolutely right! 🙂
Yeah, that “livin’ to tell about it” is the trick, isn’t it? 🙂
Write On Man! You’ve been leading the way for us and I’ve found it to be true–just sit down with my fingers on the keyboard, let go, join back in with my best old buddy from ages ago, and go run and play. That’s when the magic happens. The details come from the magic of working through the issues on the playground. I couldn’t of ever dreamed or imagined or planned any of what came out of me recently. Damn the critical mind, full speed ahead!
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