Sometimes, writing a story seems more like being a tree in an ice storm.
Sometimes I have this story idea in my mind with all of it’s branches of characters and actions, but when I sit down to write it, I can’t get it done. It’s almost like my story is covered with a heavy load of “something” that won’t let it come alive and talk to me. Sometimes it is so heavy some of the branches of the story break off and the story begins to die and never gets written.
But the “stuff” weighing down my story is not ice.
The problem is all of those RULES.
I just did a quick search on Amazon for books about “RULES for writing a story” and immediately got a list of more than four thousand books.
Now, let me say that I absolutely agree there are RULES to follow if you want to create and publish a story or a book that will be a “quality” piece. There are RULES about story-structure, about pacing, about characters, about editing, about…well, about enough things to fill over four-thousand books on Amazon.
So, I will readily admit that at least some of those four-thousand-plus books are probably worth reading and paying attention too.
But not now.
Not if you are trying to write that story and get it out of your head.
Forget the rules.
Just write the story.
For me, the first step in writing anything is to get whatever is flying around inside my head out of there and put it someplace where I can look at it.
And THEN I can start THINKING about it and start paying attention to things like “RULES“.
But if I never get that thing out of my head where I can look at it, my story will remain buried under the “stuff” and end up being another one of those stories “I always wanted to write, but…”
“RULES” are annoyingly stubborn creatures that we have been trained to fear and pay attention too. So they are constantly interrupting my writing with comments like, “Hey, are you sure that shouldn’t be a semi-colon?”, or “I don’t think that opening sentence is as exciting as it needs to be!”, or “You realize that is a run-on sentence, don’t you?”, or some other drip of ice that starts to make the work heavier.
When those voices start talking, it helps me to remember that writing a story is not a one-step thing, and there is absolutely no RULE that says I need to “get it right” the very first time I put the words on my screen, or on paper, or wherever I put them.
For me, writing is a process that begins with a brain-dump of the story. My goal is to shut the thinking side of my brain off and to just LISTEN to the voice inside that has this story it wants me to hear.
I call it my “Story-Voice“.
And I know that my Story Voice never gets the story straight the first time it tells it. In fact, it is common for my Story Voice to say something like, “Hey, do you remember that thing I told you yesterday about the boat hitting the rock and sinking? Well, forget it. That’s not how it happened. What really happened was…”
When that happens, I just smile and make the changes to the words I wrote yesterday.
My goal is to not interrupt my Story Voice by arguing with it about my thinking or about some “RULES“.
I just need to LISTEN, and write what it tells me.
Because the Story Voice always knows best!
And then, one day, when my Story Voice tells me the story is over…