“How is your book . . . your novel going?” Angus inquired politely as he sipped at his coffee. “The one about the Scottish saints?”
Antonia sighed, “Not very well, I’m afraid. My saints, I regret to say, are misbehaving. I had hoped that they would show themselves to be, well, saintly, but they are not. They are distressingly full of human foibles. There’s a lot of jealous and back-biting going on.”
Angus was puzzled. Antonia was talking of her characters as if they had independent lives of their own. But they were her creations, surely, and that meant they should do their creator’s bidding. If she wanted saintly saints, she could have them. “But you’re the author,” he said. “You can dictate what the people in your book do, can you not?” -taken from, Love Our Scotland by Alexander McCall Smith.
Most important is to let your writing take you where it does.
All my writing prompts and techniques, all my approaches to writing are to allow the writing to take you where it will. Don’t interfere with the narrative by insisting that this or that must go here. There is a big difference between force and discipline when it comes to writing. Don’t try to force ideas or rules or scenes. This will only cause you angst and resistance to writing. Forcing anything onto the page (or insisting it not be written because it may upset the reader or you just can’t go there), makes for a lesser read.
The discipline in writing, fiction or nonfiction, is to listen. Once you hear something, you get it down in all its detail. The discipline comes in how you are going to get it onto the page, not whether to include it or not. Listen to your characters if you are writing a novel. Listen to your memory, passion and body, if you are writing anything autobiographical.
Let the saints argue.
Know that you will offend someone if you’ve written the full breadth of your story.
Don’t intentionally leave anything out as you write your drafts.
Let your writing take you where it will.
“Antonia reached out for her cup of coffee. “Not at all,” she said. “People misunderstand how writers work. They think that they sit down and plan what is going to happen and then simply write it up. But it doesn’t work that way.”
Angus looked at Antonia with interest. Some of his paintings had turned out very differently from what he had had in mind at the beginning. Light became dark. And dark became light. Was this the same process? He had thought it was simply mood, but was it possible that the work acquired its own momentum, its own view of things?
“Oh yes,” Antonia went on. “The author is not in control. Or, rather, the conscious mind of the author is not in control. And the reason for that is that when we use our imagination we get in touch with that part of the mind which is asking the ‘what if’ questions. And that is not part of the conscious mind.”
“Precisely,” said Antonia. “What if. All the time, every moment, your mind is going through possibilities.” –taken from, Love Our Scotland by Alexander McCall Smith.
What if, dear Writer, what if?
Join me and other writers this Friday the 8th of November from 9:30 to 1:00 at Sjolinds in Mount Horeb to gather, drink excellent hot chocolate, write, and explore the What If’s together. I am happy to give you some free Sherpa coaching in between lines.
Upcoming!: A yoga and writing retreat in January (the 10th through the 12th). Want to explore your What If’s?.... join me at the 2020 Writers’ Institute and sign up for my Soulful Writing, Master’s Class. Want to make a living as a writer? It’s possible. Sign up for my The Abundant Writer session on Thursday February 27th. Email me to register.