Character and creation control A couple of things today. First, a couple of links to inspiring websites. The first is for my friend Neal Litherland’s Literary Mercenary site. He posts a lot of good stuff, but this one just seemed particularly useful. The other is an inspiring story about a newly minted author who found success with his debut novel. There are a lot of these success stories out there, and I like sharing them. As for the second? Yesterday, I posted a rant in a writing group that has elicited some rather pointed pushback. Which means I have struck a nerve. As I’ve often said, I write with the intent to sell. I write for a living, and this is primarily aimed at people who want to do that, too. If writing is your hobby, breeze past this and don’t listen to me. Write the way that brings you bliss. That’s what hobbies are for, right? But if you DO want to write for a living, you might just find something useful here. Rant follows. Okay, so I'm going to rant a little about writing. And use the word "fuck" a lot more than I normally do. I'm tired of seeing all this stuff out there about how "my characters aren't behaving" and "I can't get a handle on this one character because he won't talk to me." Writers have been fed this idea that we have no control over the process of creating and writing characters, or creating and writing the story because "the character is sitting there telling me the story in my head." Maybe it's because it's almost 7 AM and I'm still up, but to that shit I say "FUCK THAT!" To my thinking, when we create a character, WE do that. The character doesn't just pop into existence in our head on its own. That's our creative minds building a personality subroutine that defines who that character is and how they react to their world. When those characters "tell the story" it’s our amazing brain telling US the story that we developed for the first time. If the character does something unexpected, it's because WE put something in a scene that MADE them react that way according to the programming we developed early on. If it serves the story, great. If it doesn't take the thing that caused that reaction the fuck out of the scene! You have that superpower! Fucking claim it! Act like the awesome writing god you actually are! Not like some coffee-house poser bemoaning all the things that are stopping you from writing like a motherfucking BOSS! Is your art just not coming? Not inspired? Well, to quote Chuck Wendig: "Art HARDER, mother fucker!" If you're not feeling it, it's because you're not DOING it! The single most inspiring thing I can do when I'm NOT feeling inspired is to actually sit down and start writing anyway. The act of creating is what knocks things loose and gets the creative juices flowing. Creation begets creativity. And sometimes, the truth is, that slogged through piece of drek you wrote yesterday...is the most amazing shit you ever wrote tomorrow. Take control of your art. Don't sit around and wait for inspiration. That's just an excuse not to write. I usually say this may not apply to everyone, but I'm not feeling that here. This is the secret to how I beat writers block and how I write what I do. Thus endeth the rant.
I got some pretty harsh pushback from some folks, telling me I had no right to tell them how to write. That there is “no right or wrong way to write” and to stop doing what I was doing. The thing is, I’m not telling anyone what to do. Hell, what I’m doing is quite the opposite. You write how you want to write. Here's what I think. I think I've touched a nerve here. I think I've said some things that question some people’s path, and that upsets them. I think I've upset the snobbery that says "Writing is ART, and I'm an ARTISTE and this is the way things are done." Because everything I said above in my rant comes down to ONE thing: I'm telling writers "YOU have the power to control your creativity." It’s a scary proposition, and because of that, some folks don’t want to hear it. Evidently, some folks don't want me to even SAY it. And that’s okay. Maybe it isn’t their path, maybe they’re just not ready to hear it yet. Or maybe they’re just scared, and they don’t like the idea that their creativity is actually something that they can control. Who knows? Here’s hoping YOU get something useful out of it.