Simple tools. A noble word : intelligence.
We all read, write, feel. We all try hard to imagine the most emotional scenes, the best way to tell the stories we work on. Fine.
But do we all ? Really ? I mean do we really share the same experience ?
When I look at myself, on my own way to become a real author, a true teller, what a long road it has been. And still I may only be at the beginning. But looking back at who I was, at the way I used to consider writing, at my own daily experience of stories, there are a few things, simple and obvious, that comes to my mind.
You might be far ahead of me, or so different that none of my words could apply to you, be of any use. Still, let me try to bring to light what I consider now as the core of the art of writing. What might makes the difference between trying to and really tell stories that touch the heart of an audience.
Here I go : it all comes back to very simple tools we all share in common.
Fist. A brain. Yes. Brains.
Art is so often considered as an intuitive or inspired dimension of life that many people, including myself, first come to the conclusion that intellectual faculties are secondary in the creative process. Now I know : it is totally untrue. A real artist is in his own way a living example of pure intelligence.
Let’s only consider what it takes to write a story. Fist of all you must have the agility of a snake to see your story from every angle, every point of view. See the big picture as an eagle, and dive in each detail, or perception with a laser like eye. Brains, a trained and brilliant brain is needed there.
But you must also be able to look at yourself, and build your own map of your creative process. I mean ask yourself, and answer to essential questions : where am I in this story now ? What does it call for that I haven’t seen yet ? Who is my character ? Am I listening to him, letting him free ? And in the same time, am I really in control of the dramatic keys of the telling of that very story ? Am I living a unique experience, learning, discovering, uncovering something of me ?
In other words, do I travel myself, so that the characters and the audience will travel too ?
But all this, and believe me, it is already a huge intellectual discipline, well, all this is still a small part of what it really takes.
Organizing your creative sessions ; keeping a deep concentration in a relaxed physical state ; planning the development of the stories you’re working on ; dealing with the real life, the bills to pay, the meetings and appointments, the financial, emotional, loving aspects of your life. Not enough yet.
You must read, observe, think. Keep tracks of your own personal development. Maintain a wide and complete attentions to every aspects of what is inside you, and around. Put on paper seeds of life, seeds of insights about future stories. Listening to your own voice as well at the voice of life, the voices of characters in the symphony of the voices of real people.
That’s what it takes, if you take writing seriously.
Forget about the image of a poet inspired by the wind and the rivers. Be a writer, today, is pretty much more similar to being a chief executive in a huge company mixed with a nobelized physicist.. Someone who knows himself, knows how to organize his time, knows tools of planning and communicating, fully engaged in a personal momentum. Who knows the use of abstraction and the power of a personal, innovative, pragmatic and permanent way of applying it to his own life.
Think, plan, visualize, experiment, act, correct, adjust.
So you should be all this, always…and an artist. That is to say, yes, a man of wind and rivers, a soul of stars and fires, of whispering mornings, of blossoming flowers flashing through pouring rain and smiling faces, a hundred per cent connected with the delicate beat of life. A man of heart. But that will be the second tool.
So remember : whatever diploma you may have, whatever grades you took, writing, in the long term, will demand more intellectual concentration, discipline and knowledge of the mind that you might be willing to master, had you be warned of the entire journey when you first looked at he idea to try and be a writer.
No excuse will prevail. No mistake is allowed. No « sort of » is accepted. No « quite good » is sufficient. The world is not interested in the best you can do. The world is only interested in what he’s got at the end of the process.
You are the one who has to pass through the mirror.
And the first step through the mirror is an entire revolution of your own mind process.
Brain my friend. We all have one. But do we share the same way of using it as a global and fundamental tool to be mastered ? You see ? Basic tools. Success is the mastering of very few elements. This is a plain and essential truth, valid for both life and writing.
Few simple elements, but fully explored. Each cell of our brains is part of the process, each one is an entire world of mystery and magic. This is the first garden to take care of, especially if you are an artist. Then we might try to adventure in the big world and fully connect with it, in order to live a meaningful and vivid adventure, and, after this travel through wonders, try to share our experience with this very special soul mate we call “a reader”.
Next time, let’s have a look at our hearts and be truly familial with the second verb that a writer shoud paint in bold, magnificent letters on top of the wall in front of him : feel.