I love the idea of being an artist.
Seriously. It’s one of my dreams. I would love to be able to sketch my characters, draw scenes from my world, and put at least part of my vision for my stories onto a page where I can see it.
Unfortunately . . . my drawing skills are basically equivalent to a semi-talented six-year-old. I can draw great stick figures, some reasonably recognizable pine trees, and mountains.
Okay, I can sketch mountains. For maps and stuff.
Not actually draw real ones.
Basically, what I have in my head never, never translates to what I put on the page. And, more often than not, that’s the same with my writing.
Nothing that you put on the page is going to be exactly like you saw it in your head.
Writer, you have a beautiful imagination. Your mind is limitless, with so much potential for creativity, and the more you train your imagination, the better it will get.
Your writing will never match up to that.
Over the years, I have learned to let the story have its own way. Things crop up in the middle of writing a scene that add to and even change the course of the story, and I have learned to simply go with it.
The story in my head is not always right.
It is not always attainable.
And it is not always the better version.
I’ve come across things while exploring like this that have given my story more life than I could ever have imagined. Major plot points generally are planned ahead, and from there, I let the writing take over. It may not reach the vision I had in my mind for that particular scene—it may not even have followed the storyline I was expecting. But—within certain parameters—I let it go where it will. After seven years of writing and twenty-some years of reading passionately, my instinct for story is generally trustworthy.
And . . . when it isn’t, there’s always room in my trash bin for a failed experiment. I don’t mind trying three or four times (or sometimes more) to get an important scene just right.
Four Tips To Apply It In Your Own Life
1. Write every scene to the best of your ability—then leave it alone. Let it rest, let it simmer for a while. Move on to the next scene and keep writing. The longer you are stuck on a single section, the more frustrated you will get and the more chance you have of dumping the whole thing. Move forward.
2. Remember that words are limited, but your reader’s imagination is not. Your job is not to put paint the complete picture, only to offer enough details to spark the reader’s imagination. Damp pine needles, silver birches, salt rime among the reeds. Give them hints and then leave the rest to their imagination.
3. Allow the written version of your story to take precedence over the visual version in your mind. Let it go. Let it be what it is. The tighter you hold onto your original version, the less room you will have for exploration. Let your story breathe and grow beyond the vision you had for it.
4. Have grace for yourself. You are still learning. In the beginning, even just a sketch of your original idea is a triumph. Writing is hard. It takes a lot of time and practice to come to a place where you can accurately fulfill the ideas you’ve had. Just like when you first start drawing.
Good luck, dearest writer! May your tea be hot and your dreams wild.
Was this post helpful to you? Tell me about it in the comments, and drop in any tips of your own! I would love to hear about it.