Welcome to the first Tactless Tuesday. Today begins a several week series examining lies that writers tell themselves. I know about most of these because I have told them to myself a hundred million times. In fact, as much as possible I will try to draw all illustrations from my own experience.
Lie #1 - Stories exist outside out imagination.
Few writers would tell this tell to themselves quite so brazenly. Let me suggest some alternative forms that this lie can take, which might sound more familiar:
I have to tell the story that demands to be written.
I can't change that part, because that's the how it happened.
My favorite part of writing is discovering what happens as the story goes on.
I just can't wait to see what happens next.
I didn't expect that to happen.
Each of these, in some way, requires that the story have its own existence -- an ability to compel your writing or determine its own course of action.
So what's the big deal? If that's how the writer perceive it, it's just a quirk of the human brain. No harm done.
Here's the truth that this lie often serves to conceal: The writer is in charge of the story.
Too often I talk to fellow writers or read their blogs and get this sense of helplessness. As if the writers are engaged in some dialectic struggle with spiritual force of their story, hoping that in the end, the result will be better than either the writer's will or the story's. But the story doesn't have a will. The writer is the boss! The writer is the creator!
Writers have the ability to take charge and take control. You have to write the story that demands to be written? Perhaps there's some psychological reason that you personally have to write the story, but it's not the story's fault. Take responsibility.
You want to see what happens? Hey, you're the one who makes it happen. You didn't like what happened? Change it. Something needs to be changed? The story never happened; you created it in your imagination, so changing it doesn't hurt anything or anyone.
Here's the point. Writers need to not feel helpless before their stories. Writers are all-powerful when it comes to what they create. That's the power of being the creator. Your story does not exist in some spiritual plain that you are tapping into. You are that story's momma and poppa and deity all in one. Make it yours. Claim it!