It has been said by many writers and would-be writers that someone else already wrote your story. You might be right. Maybe it has. But here’s the kicker: it wasn’t written by you, using your perspective. Your perspective is fresh and unique and it’s yours. Go for it and write it down. Get the story out of your head.
If you’re afraid to write it, that it won’t be perfect, that what makes you a writer, and that you don’t know where to start. Every writer has these fears. The first word of advice is “just write it.”
Today I want to talk about the inner critic that keeps us from moving forward.
We have many reasons for critiquing our own work so harshly. The biggest is fear. Fear of what, you might ask? What is it that keeps us lost in the deep dark forest with the wolves baying at our heels and prevents us doing the work we were meant to do? The answers may vary from person to person, but here are some of the top reasons:
This morning, I sat on my front deck to meditate. Since the spring here is still rather cool, I took my favorite multi-colored striped blanket to wrap around my legs. Refreshing cool air washed across my face. A light rain trickled off the roof, pattered on the lake, and dripped from tree branches.
As I focused my breath, I saw loons, ducks, tree sparrows, and a kingfisher winging their way across the water. When I closed my eyes and listened carefully, I heard robins, sparrows, chickadees, finches, woodpeckers, flickers, blue jays, crows, and even a rooster crowing somewhere across the lake.
Inspiration, much to many people’s chagrin, does not come “from out of the blue” at “odd moments.” It is not a lightning flash that appears in the dark of night. It is not the girl (or man) sleeping on the pillow next to you.
Here’s what I’ve figured out. Inspiration is the process of information exchange between your conscious and your subconscious minds. The information comes from your own experiences, beliefs, traditions, cultures, and anything else that makes you you.
Despite what you might think, a writer never gets it right the first time. A good story takes hours (and days and weeks and months and sometimes years) of editing, rewriting, rereading, reorganizing, and polishing.
The first draft requires that you write something… anything…. Just get words on paper (or screen). Once you start free writing—brainstorming—ideas should flow. Don’t worry about getting them in any particular order. Just keep writing until you run out of ideas.
I often hear people say they only got X number of words today. I’m not moving along as fast as I’d like. Why can’t I write today?
I say, “Screw it.”
If you’re writing the first draft of a story, setting a number of words per day is a perfectly fine goal if it keeps you motivated. But if you’re a few words short at the end of the day, the sky won’t fall and the world won’t end. Think about the words you did write, and pat yourself on the back. Congratulations! You did something positive toward your goal.
Let’s say your story includes a forest scene? This might be where your character comes to find clues to solve a mystery, to meet a stranger, to meditate on his problems, to find a lost child, or whatever your imagination has conjured up for your story.
Picture a clearing in the forest that you might paint (or photograph).
Nature is a great inspiration to me. My acrylic paintings and doodle art are mostly all nature based — flowers, birds, insects like butterflies and dragonflies, and general landscapes.
Some of my favorite things to do are to walk in the woods listening to the birds, watching the leaves change through out the season, finding interesting mosses or mushrooms, watching waterfalls plunge over rocks or a cliff, or wandering the beach.
Using objects in your writing can imply certain symbolism about a character and the setting and maybe even where the plot is headed.
Today, I’ll talk about acorns. Those tiny souvenirs that drop from the mighty oak tree in the autumn. Oaks are one of my many favorite trees. The trees grow strong and tall and sometimes live for hundreds of years — some say even a thousand.
The acorn is but the seed that potentially grows into another tree. Seeds are a form of hope for the future. As the seed cracks open, it must be watered and nurtured until it becomes stable enough to grow on its own. Hope may be in the form of one day sitting in the shade of a massive tree, collecting nuts for food, feeding the animals, a place for kids to play, or homes for birds.