Internally committing to something is one thing. Publicly committing to something is entirely different for now there’s a heightened sense of accountability. Your actions are measured, tallied. Your inaction noticed for the void of activity it occupies. Your ideas, your dreams, your goals are now in the public forum – no longer locked away in the confines of your mind. They take on their own life, own identity and are now tangible. What noone could see is now in the limelight. It is now hanging over your head like a visible thought bubble…
…mine is written in 12pt Calibri font and says “I want to be a writer“.
In an effort to get my creativity kick-started I dove into a workshop with the amazingly talented, brilliantly authentic, witty and charming Donna Morrissey this past weekend. It filled me with so much enthusiasm for the craft and allowed me to stretch my proverbial writing muscles. We were challenged to write a number of short passages on the fly, without much preconceived thought about what we were writing. The results of our efforts were surprisingly good and some were downright outstanding. Some true talent in the group. It uplifted my spirits in that it showed me I can put thoughts to paper and come up with something quite worthy of being shared and it also put me humbly in my place and at times made me feel extremely inferior in my skills when pitted against other writers. Perhaps the best compliments came when other writers in the room approached me about a theme I had written about – procrastination.
It turns out that a common characteristic amongst the group of writers was procrastination. In fact, many of us admittedly have been procrastinators our entire lives – right back to elementary school. Imagine my surprise when I learned that my course mate, my grade 8 science teacher, admitted to also being a procrastinator! It was quite enlightening to hear that the majority of the people in the room had had an idea for a book floating around in their head for up to 20 years. Why do we put off these creative pursuits? Why don’t we listen to these yearnings to express ourselves? Is it because we don’t believe in our abilities? Is it because we fear that our voice isn’t unique enough? Are we afraid of rejection?
Just like running a race, the most important step to finishing a race is actually starting the race. This also translates to writing. If you don’t start writing then you’ll never finish what you aspire to write. If you can’t finish a novel then how can you possibly submit it to a publisher? It sounds so logical yet is such a stumbling block for me personally. I’ve been so focused on the “what ifs” of the final product that it has been holding me back from actually getting anything on paper. I need to stop looking so far ahead and instead focus on what I can control and actively make steps forward in achieving – the end result, of a novel.
Since the course on Saturday I’ve opened up my notebook and begun jotting down ideas for settings for the actions of the novel I want to write and have begun working on character development. It has been very fun to get down on paper the ideas for the protagonist and the supporting characters and the antagonist as well – to document their personality traits, their flaws, their hopes, their history and even their physical appearance. Some of them have come very easily as I’ve had them in my mind for a very long time. Others will come in time and will be developed as I go and the story unfolds. I’ve also begun Pinterest boards dedicated to setting and details. Having something visual to draw upon for inspiration is extremely helpful. My next step will be an outline of the different sections of the book, the major conflicts and events that will affect the character development and all of that is truly exciting.
I know that it won’t all happen overnight because I have a lot of other competing demands but it is fun to have this little alternate “life” going on in my head – ideas spinning for dialogue or scenes I want to incorporate. I find I sometimes am woken up through the night with a really great metaphor or a scene and I know this is a great sign as to how excited I am about this process.
So, I’m going to forget about the future details of publishing and just focus on the here and now – getting words down and moving the story forward. I’m excited to see what this brain of mine comes up with and what I’ll learn about myself in the process of writing. I’ve got a voice – I just need to start singing