[Image credit to Tracy Ann Designs]
My least favorite piece of writing advice is “just go with it.” Or, as I hear it, “just channel your muse!”
There are a variety of reasons I hate this advice. One of those recently-discovered justifications is that I found I am an outliner. I need structure. But even when I am in the process of outlining–which is still a means of creation, even if not in the “fly by the seat of your pants” manner–I struggle to find direction, to find a reason, to “just go with it” because I don’t know what this “it” is.
And I’ve searched for a not-insignificant amount of time for my “it.”
I have that desire to write that absolutely burns at the core of how I am made. As I’ve mentioned before, writing is my thing. I find beauty in words. I find beauty in the shapes of words, in the sound of words, in matching word with idea (because just matching word with definition is not always a shoe-in to communicating the idea behind your message), in using lots of words, in using very few words, in using loud words, and fragile, porcelain words. Words are so powerful and so diverse.
However, I feel so deeply that I need an anchor. I need a reason to outline that unspoken story. Not only that, but I need a solid, foundational reason. I need solid, foundational understanding. My “it” is hard to “just go with” because my “it” is so encompassing of so many things.
And many of those things I don’t truly understand yet.
But I’m working toward that understanding.
After nine years, I’m finally beginning to find my “it.”
I’m finding my “it” in the passion of the human soul. My process of finding my “it” has taken me on quite the intricate expedition. “Okay, so I am passionate about the core of humanity. So what is the core? The soul. Not everyone agrees about the soul. What do people say against the soul? What does God say about the soul? What do people ask and wonder about the soul? How do science fiction writers view the soul? How is the soul subverted, praised, or otherwise ignored in fiction and philosophy? How do soul and story work?”
At its core, story is a medium used to communicate and reflect soul. Writing is one way to express that medium. And each storyteller may choose to reflect a different part of their soul in their work. Some storytellers wish to make their audience laugh, others to make their audience think or cry or love and some to just passively entertain–but even a storyteller who just wants to entertain his or her audience reflects some element of their worldview and perspective in how they frame their story.
My expedition to find my “it” has led me to question my own soul and what passions and desires God has put there. I’ve found that where my storytelling is dreadfully weak is where my own knowledge and conviction on the relevant soul-based topic is immensely lacking.
I look forward to the day when I finally find my “it.” Maybe then I’ll be able to go with the flow. Maybe then I’ll understand what makes this creative force so powerful instead of just a hindrance to sanity (because there are days…).