Monthly Archives: September 2011
If you write novels or screenplays, you probably know that the Story exists whole before you write a single word of it.
Non-writers often assume that writers “make up” stories. That we invent characters, put words in their mouths, decide who they are and what they’ll do. And, if you read many how-to-write-fiction or how-to-plot-screenplays, you’ll also begin to wonder: Is that how other writers do it? Planning, scheming, plotting it all out? So mechanical? Perhaps that works for some writers.
For me, that would be impossible.
The stories I write, choose me. The characters already exist, they know who they are. And they know the story. Because it’s their story. For whatever reason, they choose to trust me with it. It’s about relationship. Listening. Getting to know them. Asking questions and letting them tell you.
Yes, that sounds nutty to someone who hasn’t experienced it. But most writers know what I’m talking about.
Having a problem with your storyline? Ask your characters. Listen to what they have to say and to what they’re not telling you. And be patient.
The stories I write have to do with wounded people rediscovering their innate strength, value and beauty. Early on in the screenplay I’m working on now, I was antsy. I wanted to see ahead, to know what the major events were going to be. I wanted to be assured that the story unfolding would actually make sense.
What did the characters do? The lead character who had experienced the most pain in the story asked me to be tender with them.
Duh. Here I was writing a story about tenderness and I wasn’t being tender with the characters.
Needless to say, the character made his point.
Don’t try to force anything on your characters. Instead, listen to them. If they trust you, they’ll tell you.
Characters want to tell their story. They’ll work with you to find the best way.
And they have a wealth of expertise on just how to do that.
“Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery
We can say more and say it more powerfully, with less.
I read recently somewhere that companies need to be in command of their message – to know what to say and how to say it.
To be in command you first have to have confidence. Confidence is trust. Not arrogance. Confidence that signals to others that you believe in yourself, your product, your art, your work and that they can, too.
Be in command of your art. We all know that creative expression comes with a whole host of influences, muses, characters, choices – all vying for decisions, support, weight.
That’s where it comes down to really listening. Deeply. Openly.
Then trusting and moving forward.
“Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more important it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey.“ –John O’Donohue
Trust is an integral part of the creative process. Trusting your Guidance, trusting your vision, trusting that your voice matters. Ultimately, trusting yourself more than anyone else, because you alone know what your purpose is, what you are trying to express, what the end result should look like.
How much do you trust yourself?
When you have a decision to make between others’ feedback and what your heart is saying, how do you decide?
You have to trust that even when you can’t see how it will finish, where it will go, what will happen in the end, it’s going to be what it is supposed to be.
How are you trusting your creative self today?