I’ve been thinking a lot lately about an element of creative writing that isn’t often spoken about. It’s the writing equivalent of ‘ask and ye shall receive’. And really it’s what I like to think of as a matter of trust. I’ve been writing for quite a number of years now and in the past I’ve become disheartened with a work in progress because I couldn’t figure out a plot point or I didn’t know where the story was going, and as a result I’d get tied up in knots and things would grind to a halt.
Somewhere along the line I learned to trust myself. Maybe once I had a few stories under my belt. The kind of trust I’m talking about is having faith in your creative ability, in believing that your unconscious side – which is really where all the cool creative stuff happens – will offer up what you need when you need it. After I noticed what was happening, I began to see it more and more (which may simply be the observer effect) but it also made me less prone to worry about my work and seize up.
The Lenticular books I’ve been writing for quite a number of years have two plot strands centred on two very different characters. I knew that at some point towards the end the story these two strands had to interact, but I had no idea how that was going to happen. I’ve had no idea how that would happen for years. I should have been worried, but I wasn’t. I knew my unconscious would be working on the problem and would deliver the solution. And that’s what finally happened. Walking to work and musing idly about my story one day, the solution came fully formed and entirely organic in the way it brought the two strands together. Like most ideas of that ilk, it was obvious. But only after the fact.
Trust also works at the micro-level, line by line. There are times where I have no idea what I am going to write next. I may have a goal for a scene in terms of plot but haven’t worked out how that goal will be achieved. So many times now I’ve written a word I didn’t know I was going to write and that’s carried me into a scene or an image or an exposition that does just what I needed done.
I don’t think I’m particularly special as writers go. I think this is an effect that occurs and can be encouraged in just about anybody. The trick is to recognise it and believe it will happen. Trust. It’s a wonderful thing.