Monday, January 24, 2011
Unleash Your Beast
I'll bet most or all of you have heard that tired old advice more than you'd like. The one that goes: Just write! Don't think! But unfortunately, that is often easier said than done. Even I have spouted those two sentences a time or two. And yet, even I struggle to swallow my own advice sometimes.
That's why I'm writing about this and something else. Something we all still fear at times.
Another saying that we as writers have heard is: Write what you know.
It's easier that way, no? If you are a nurse, or have experience in the nursing field, then perhaps your characters or storylines reflect a bit of that in your books. If you are one of those who crave the affections of another, then your characters might act the same way. It's always simpler to write what you know.
If you write romance, you stick to romance. If you write horror, you stick to horror.
Yes, you may add a few elements of other genres in your writing but only a bit here and there.
Someone asked me the other day...what happens if you get stuck in a rut? What happens if you always ONLY stick to what you know and never explore writing about anything else?
Mind you, this friend is not a writer, and was asking more out of curiousity than anything else, but it got me thinking.
How would we know if our skill extended beyond that of which we know if we never tried? How can we master the art of writing when we haven't explored everything the craft has to offer? So off I went on a writing experiment. Grabbing my handy pen and notebook, I began to write. No plot, no character ideas, no clue as to where or what I was going for. I simply picked a setting, got it in my head that this would NOT be about romance (which is my forte) and wrote.
Two hours later I had about twenty, handwritten pages of something resembling closely to paranormal horror. It was sloppy, wordy, overexagerated, and oh so many more bad things.
And yet, I was giddy with excitement at what I'd accomplished.
No it wasn't good. Not awesome. But it was DIFFERENT.
I took a chance at something that was way out of my league (or so I thought) and after jumping in, resurfaced feeling rejuvenated. I let go and let the words take me away.
Can you imagine what would have happened if I'd been writing romance? Phew!
When was the last time you wrote without thinking? Without worrying about what people will think when they read what you have on the page (or screen) in front of you?
There is always that little voice in the back of our minds that keeps our minds from wandering too far. That keeps our words limited to what we just outlined. The one that says: "What will publishers think? Will they buy that? Will they ask to read more? Too many mistakes! Don't use that word!"
Do you remember the first time you ever picked up a pen/pencil? The first stroke of the keyboard when you wrote the beginning sentence of your very first story?
You weren't worrying about the query letter that you would send out. Or the comments you would get from readers, the critique. Hell, you weren't even worried about what was going to happen next. All you knew is that there was a story brewing in your mind that you absolutely had to get down!
It was a wonderful feeling, wasn't it?
Sometimes we get so caught up in our novels, our writing, and what people will think about it that we lose the joy that comes from the pure act of writing.
So I challenge you not one, but two things.
Forget the story you are writing, just for a moment. As important as it is, as much as you need to write the next chapter...put it on hold for just one hour. Get out that old fashioned pen and pencil--because you will be so tempted to hit delete if you use a computer--and go somewhere you won't be distracted.
And write. Don't think about characters, names, places, storyline...just go with what comes.
They may not be full sentences and you might wind up calling one of your characters John Doe but do it.
The second challenge? Unleash the beast inside you. The one just itching to come out and wreak havoc on all that you think you know by taking you to a place you've never been in your writing career. Write in a different direction. If you tend to lean toward horror--write romance. Fantasy? Try urban fairy tale. Etc...
What's the worst that could happen?
You'll get the same giddyness you once felt?
Yeah...that would suck so much. Ha ha.
Until next time.