Writing book two, it turns out, is more terrifying than writing the first in the series. It’s more terrifying as the downloads of scenes and dialogues and meaningful discoveries line up to be delivered to the page – each bigger than the last (will I be able to type that fast?). It’s more terrifying as the sense of obligation to these characters roots deeper, pushing down into the unseen well. It’s more terrifying – but also more compelling. More than the first, writing the second book is something I can’t not do.
After The LOOK, The POWER of Amie Martine is a non-negotiable promise to be kept. Each new page turn effects (on a personal scale) the next rotation of the earth – a pulse essential to my heart – respect for a binding agreement to have more fun, be more true, excavate something undeniably new.
Rumi said: unfold your own myth. That is exactly what she did.
Get The LOOK
“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.” -from The Essential Rumi, by Coleman Barks
This is one of the best conversations on the creative process I’ve listened in on in a long while… filmmaking, parenting, pro sports — all so good and inspiring.
The trick is: not to need gut wrenching treks into Mordor as a means to activate your courage. Rather, give yourself permission to bypass strife then begin to spin up courage in response to the prolific potential of your innate creativity — and so set out to live adventurously in the smallest moments of each day, and build ramparts of love in every waking dream you decide to make real.
Me? Before I take my pen- I take time. Sometimes this can take forty years. First you have intuition, which brings vision, which builds an ethic, which will give birth to a concept, and finally, perhaps, which will make a product. The product is at the absolute end of the process, and never in reverse. That is why, perhaps, I make things which have a little more echo than others.
The path to excellence is to halt — NOW! — All un-excellent stuff.
– Tom Peters, Brand You
Tom Peters is one of the best common-sense advocates for living in the moment — and doing so with gusto — to create the brightest of all possible, unpredictably stellar futures. The trick is: don’t wait for an outcome to satisfy the craving burning right now in your heart. You want to write a novel: begin — and don’t start small; live for every sentence, every pixel of imagination. The process IS the success.
I have adored this man’s presence and perspective so long, I can’t not see the world through his big red exclamation point.
Why are you looking at what you are looking at? Is it because it looks good, or because we need to see it to move the story along? It should always be to move the story along and never solely because it looks good.
I love it when advice for artists cross-pollinates from one medium to another. This article on basic tenants of cinematography not only translates to things we should care deeply about in writing, but also underscores how no technique or high-tech gadget will ever be more important than the story it serves to deliver to an audience.
Our job is to serve the story — behind the camera, behind the words, and through the mind, heart, soul and presence we bring to light.
Cameras don’t tell stories, people do. Since we can all agree this is the case, there is really only one thing you need to tell great stories… YOU. –Matthew Jeppsen, The Five C’s of Cinematography
There’s only so much writing I can effectively get through in one sitting. I can compose a huge chunk at a rapid pace, but rarely can I write write write for a long period of time. A few hours of focus usually taps me out for the day. Sometimes I have just enough fuel left to burn another 45 minutes on editing and proofing, but after that, I’m spent.
In the process of writing a substantial project like a novel, that feeling of being tapped out NEVER goes hand in hand with feeling satisfied or complete. Quite the opposite, I feel frustrated and bummed I can’t keep cranking out good work. The gears of thought and imagination keep grinding even when I’m too beat to keep the words flowing in response.
I need a creative outlet to activate that residual energy and give it value – for my sanity! Since the novel is already enslaving me to words, it’s essential that outlet be non-verbal – photography works well, music even better. When I can’t type one more coherent sentence to save my life, I still have enough spark in me to spend another hour playing with sound. Sometimes when the writing isn’t revving up, I can start getting in the groove that way, too – I can approach it sideways through music.
It helps when the outlet isn’t tangled up in personal ambition: I need just enough skill at it to find the process satisfying while having a clear understanding this is NOT the thing I’m ever likely to be best in. This gives me the freedom to be playful, adventurous and delighted; when things actually turn out half-way decent, it’s a fun reward.
The perfect creative outlet releases nagging tension driving me to complete the central project without distracting me from that purpose or lulling me into complacency. Goofing off in sidebar arts limbers me up and expands the space in which new ideas about the novel can pop and thrive. A dedicated outlet serves as fuel for getting through blank alleys and blind turns in the imagination: the fearless push required to get to the really good stuff lurking in the shadows.
What are you working on? How do you stoke momentum? Do you have a creative outlet that helps you recharge? How has it been serving you? Share your ideas here!
I’ve been venting by creating an evolving “soundtrack” for the novel – you can listen on SoundCloud.