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Monday

Tuning In

Yesterday I had a headache, so I was laying down on our loveseat, about to drift off into sleep, when it hit me. My hero needs to be much more involved in encouraging my heroine to believe her dreams.

Has this kind of thing ever happened to you? It happens to me all the time. Around two o'clock in the morning, I find myself reaching for my cell phone on the nightstand and typing out somewhat-incoherent notes to myself so I won't forget the flow of ideas. By the way, more than once have I awakened in the morning to realize that these notes were totally unreadable. Guess I need to work on my sleep typing skills.

I used to think quality writing was mostly about the skill writing well. But the longer I've worked to craft these stories, I've realized there's so much more to it than that. To craft a truly great story, we have to learn to listen, tuning in to the stories around us.

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 Stories are all around us. As writers, God has gifted us with the ability to see beyond the surface layers of the world. I often catch myself daydreaming and wondering about other people's stories. I used to think that was just my personality, but when I grew connected with other writers, I realized it really is a "writer" thing.

Don't let the rest of the world stamp that impulse out of you. Just as we tend to lose our childlike creativity as adults, we also tend to lose our sense of imagination. We get caught up in the have-to's and responsibilities of the day. We must work so hard to keep these things from snuffing out our desire, our interest in the deeper story.

Sometimes this means taking a time out from life to take some deep breaths, put on a Billie Holiday song, and dance around the living room. Sometimes it may mean eavesdropping at Panera. Sometimes it may simply mean listening to the whispers of your own heart, the whispers of God's voice to you.

But whatever it takes, we have to come to a place of tuning in to the story behind the story. These deeper layers shape our writing voice, our plot, and even the various shades of our characters' motives and goals. It's so easy to skip past this aspect of writing because it seems "fun," and we often feel like we just have to push through writing-exhaustion to get that elusive word count. Yes, sometimes we do. But other times, the thing that's keeping us back from development in our story is actually our own need to take a step back and let the story, the characters, breathe. 

Learn to privilege the whispers of dreams and imagination. If you get an idea in the middle of church, that's okay. Scribble it down. If you're half asleep when inspiration comes, don't roll over and hope you'll remember the idea in the morning. The more we feed the muse, the creative voice in our hearts, the stronger it will be.

So I encourage you to give it a try today. When a creative idea breaks through your mind, interrupting what you're "supposed" to be doing, welcome it. Doing this consistently will help us remember the joy of story.

2 comments:

  1. Ah, this is so hard for me! I get stuck in one way of thinking. I really have to force myself to be okay with changing things, even if I'm already well into my story. But if it makes it better, it's worth it. That's what I keep telling myself!

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    1. It IS hard to change things when you've already invested time, isn't it? For me, one of the hardest things is actually the first draft fear of changing things... I sometimes get writer's block when I think of how much of what I'm about to write will have to be changed. The actually changing process is somewhat of a relief! Bit yes, you are SO right! It's well worth all the effort to get to the deeper story.

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