Writing, for me, and I know for many of you, is an unparalleled experience. It’s in our blood, haunts our thoughts both waking and dreaming, is a soul-deep drive. And it should be – it is passion that both inspires our work and empowers it.
Here are a few of the things I love about being a writer – I hope they will ignite your passions as well.
I love finding out new things about people. When a character comes out of the blue and says, “Hey Gene, let’s talk. You see, I’m really like this. I’d never wear a turtleneck. Stop making me eat peanut butter, it makes me gassy. Etc.” Getting to sit back and have quality time with my subconscious manifestations brings the writing to life. Sure, the character doesn’t Actually exist – but for writers they do and in deeper ways then the people we know in real life because characters can’t hide their truths from us if we take the time to seek them. How often are you able to see beyond the masks and facades of the people you know when they are trying to hide something? This intimacy is what makes character creation is a refreshing activity.
I love discovering new worlds. I have a fun writing exercise that I use when I want to create a world or scenic area. I call it the Blank Cube. Have you ever seen a cartoon where the characters fall out of the background into a completely white limbo? Imagine yourself in such a spot, only you have absolute power to populate the scenery however you choose. Where is the horizon? What color is the sky? The color and shade of the grass? Turn in a circle, what do you see? Shape the world with the power of your thoughts alone. No inner editor allowed here – just you and the unquestioned power of creation. This is one of the greatest joys of being a fiction writer. Yes, it’s an ego trip, but please save self-denial for that third sprinkled doughnut that is calling your name. Explore the Blank Cube and bring a new world to life.
I’m one of those people that loves knowing the “why” of everything. Call it a strange and guilty pleasure. When I’m working out a storyline, the first test centers on why an event would happen, why would the character(s) take a certain course or action, why would anyone care, why, why. This is a fun exercise and another way to gain intimacy with your characters. “Hey, Bill. Why do you stutter when you talk about your mother but the rest of the time your speech is politician smooth?” And don’t forget to ask the villains the same questions: “Why exactly are you trying to become the supreme overlord of the corner hot dog stand?” In life, finding out the reasons behind other peoples actions and those of the world around us is often difficult and hidden by layers of defense; I’m convinced it is a reflex from childhood, no one wants to get found out and have to pay up for their actions: “If they knew why I did this it would make me look stupid/incompetent/etc.”. In our fiction, the world is an open book (pun intended) that cannot hide when we take the time to search. Find out the why and watch your writing resonate with the power of discovery.
Last, but never least – I enjoy meeting and getting to know other writers. Spending too much time alone in one’s own mind does have drawbacks. Insulation saps inspiration – we need contact in order to learn, grow and recharge the batteries. Only another writer can truly understand the trials and joys of writing. Yes, your mom loves you but a nice brownie and a suggestion to go do something “useful” is not going to help figure out how best to get your protagonist from point A to point B. Take the brownie to go and find a writing friend to talk the issue out with – and that, my friends, is something “useful” and a joy I hope you all experience regularly.
What are some of the reasons you love being a writer? What is the “writerly” activity you most enjoy? Do you have writing buddies you can hang out, call and chat with?