If Writing Was Easy...
I’m getting back to work this summer after taking a little writing break this year. At one point, when I mentioned to a friend that I was taking a breather, she said, “Well I’m not surprised! You must run out of ideas after awhile.”
Actually… no. It’s never the ideas that are a problem, although I’ve noticed that this part of the writing process holds a special fascination for non-writers. I’m asked- more often than any other question- where I come up with my ideas.
I guess those of us who like telling stories see the possibility for a good yarn everywhere we turn. I get ideas from magazines and TV shows. From snippets I overhear from couples in bars or airports. From mythology, history and soap operas. The best ideas are usually a weird mash-up of all of the above.
So truly, the ideas aren’t the hard part of writing. I have drawers full of story ideas. And once people know you’re a writer, they often like to feed you ideas- the story of how their grandmother fell in love or the time their great-grandfather caught a killer. Everyone has a story inside them.
The trick is in the telling. This is the part that I find the most challenging and the reason I needed a break this year. Once you have a great story in mind, the only thing that keeps it from being a bestseller, or critically acclaimed, or beloved by a devoted core following is the talent I bring to the page. Do I have the writing chops to tell that story the way it deserves to be told? Have I revealed the information in the most interesting way so that I don’t tell too much up front, but I tell enough to keep the reader intrigued?
This is the daunting part of putting together a book. Anyone can dream up a fabulous core plot. Only the most gifted of writers can take that basic premise and turn it into a memorable, keeper shelf read that you’ll want to come back to time and time again. It’s that constant aspiration to tell a better story that can be exhausting, squeezing every bit of know-how out of a person in an effort to be entertaining.
But there’s an ad for hockey that I watched over and over again in the playoffs this season that showed my heroes making one impossible shot after another. The narration said- “if hockey was easy, it wouldn’t be great.” I think that idea applies to writing and so many other dreams we chase. If writing was easy, it wouldn’t have fascinated me for so long. It wouldn’t continue to inspire me to hone my skills and craft better stories. It’s true that some people- hockey players and writers alike- are born with more innate talent. But no one becomes great without an exhausting amount of practice.
With any luck, I’m going to be offering better stories in the future for all the effort I’ve put into upping my game. And I hope the ideas I come up with today will seem like better ideas simply because I have more skill to convey them on paper.
***We’ve all tried to “be great” in some area of our lives at one time or another, whether it was on a sports field or in a job interview. When was the last time you worked hard to bring your “A-game” to some arena of your life? How did you do and was it a satisfying experience? I’ve got a copy of my latest Blaze, HER MAN ADVANTAGE, for one random poster here or on the WS Facebook page