My writing philosophy is that they story is already written, and you as the author are just discovering it, and sharing it with others who can't find it. Yes, that's incredibly cheese-y however, in the words of my band director, cheese is delicious! This is something I truly believe and feel about all of my writing experiences. It isn't my story, but rather the story of someone else (i.e. the characters) and I'm simply telling it for them; giving them a voice. I don't create worlds, I simply find and explore them.
I have been engrossed in a world for a few years now. The idea came to me while I was at band camp (go ahead, laugh, make jokes) at the end of my high school career. It's one of the few stories I have fully planned out, partially because I've been in it for so long I need help remembering, and partially because it is so large and deep. It's a young adult style (though there is some content that will likely boot it off the actual YA list) fiction series with a science driven plot. I plan on it being a four book series but honestly, there's a good chance it will be more than four books or at least produce other stories written into the same world. I'm not intending to brag, I'm simply stating that this story is so much more. It's an entire world with hundreds of stories and characters and chaos. So why haven't I written it yet?
Well, just as I read multiple books at the same time, I tend to write multiple stories at a time. So this story, as captivating as it was, tended to be pushed back in favor of shorter projects or stories for which I had a particular inspiration or discovery.
So here it is, years later and that story is still brewing and seething within my heart, waiting for it's chance. I decided this summer would be the perfect opportunity to give it that chance. Lately, I've had a lot of realizations about the story. I met new characters, uncovered secrets about old ones, and even learn much of the science behind the central plot (thanks BIO 101!). I was ready to go and so excited make this stunning world that I had been living in for years come to life for someone else! So I got comfy, sat down, opened my laptop and wrote two strong sentences. And then.... nothing.
This happened multiple times throughout the last month. I would get really excited about it, sit down and produce nothing. So what the heck is happening? As I said, I had plenty of inspiration and many scenes intimately detailed and planned out, so it's not your typical writer's block. I know exactly what I want to write. I can talk about the story all day long. I can even vocalize a lot of what I would be writing. But as soon as I put my fingers to the key board, or pencil to paper, nothing happens. What is this strange black magic? My problem seemed to be getting into the story itself, writing from the correct perspective. Which seems so strange because my entire hear and mind have been consumed by this story for the last couple months. So how do I get deeper in a world I am completely immersed in?
Of course, I researched tips and tricks to get me past what most would call a "dry spell." I did every exercise I came across for a few weeks (even though many of them didn't apply to my writing style, it's always good to try something new!) and had no results. This is one of those times when there doesn't seem to be a magic answer. As of right now, there is no solution to my problem. I tried to write just before I went to work composing this post and still nothing. But that's okay. I'm sure this will help me grow in some ways, even if it's not specifically in my writing but in some other area of my life.
I do have one last exercise to try. It was suggested by our very own Ren Westerman and it sounds really cool. His idea was basically a conversation between you and your character. Yes, that is a technique that has been around a while, but Ren has a bit of a unique spin to it. He suggests you ask the character questions about their story and situation and then write (or speak) out the answers they give you. In this way, you're discussing the story just as you would with a friend or club (in other words, it won't likely lead to anything you don't already know), however the perspective is not your own. It's the character's and they have a lot more to say about it than you do. This is a great way to explore your character's voice as well as what they do or do not know. He calls it 'spatial creativity' and I think it has a lot of potential, particularly for me since, as I said before, my issue seems to be writing within the story. I'm going to try it in the next week or so and I will let you know how it goes in my next blog post.
Until then, I want you all to know that we all struggle and there isn't always a magic button that you press or a secret technique to apply to get out of the struggles. What worked for one person may not even relate to you. It can be discouraging to research and read and try so many things written and recommended by professionals and not get any results.
Know that you're not alone. If you have or are currently struggling with your craft, feel free to comment below! Let us share in your struggles and eventual success! Because there will be success. I can promise you that.