People frequently ask how I come up with my story ideas. They wonder how I ever found time to write three novels. They sigh, wistfully lamenting their own lack of discipline, imagination or ability, and seldom believe me when I tell them they could do it, too, if they really wanted to badly enough. I know it's true because, aside from always dreaming of being an author, I am no different. I am just your average schmo, no special training - heck, I've never even taken a college English course! Yet, somehow I've managed to publish a trilogy. My degree in Commercial Art makes it possible for me to illustrate my work, but even my seventeen year old daughter knows more about sentence structure and composition than I do.
So, how do I convince them - and you - that you can achieve your dreams, whatever they may be?
Let me start by sharing a little something I've learned in the writing process:
It's all about the editing.
When the idea for my series first sparked, I mentally filed it away, too "busy" and lacking in confidence to do anything concrete with it. Over the years that file grew. Life experiences sparked other ideas, most seemingly unconnected, yet somehow meaningful. These got tucked away as well; sometimes whole chapters worth. A name here. A description there. I took notes on any available scrap of paper, and lost more of these jottings than I saved. By the time I actually buckled down and attempted to make a coherent story of it all, it had morphed into an amalgam barely recognizable from that first firing of the imagination. Some of the new material was golden. Some was embarrassingly full of holes. Some of it I loved, but eventually had to part with anyhow. That's where knowing what to edit comes in.
Often, less really is more. Dreams and ideas aside, we need discipline to make room for what really matters. Our modern lives are overcrowded, our days jam-packed with work, activities and...well...other less important stuff. Along with the good we accumulate sludge and detritus - like mindless binge TV watching and FaceBook scrolling. Such constant entertainment and opinion bantering, with no purpose beyond numbing ourselves to reality or making our point known, saps our energy. It distracts from what is meaningful, and lulls us into complacency. Our days disappear in a blur.
I get sucked in, too - which is exactly why I haven't produced much of worth in the last few months. Sure, I've been busy with some important stuff, but I've also indulged in a lot of fluff that needs editing out if I ever want to finish my WIP. Fluff that actually weighs down dreams. My initial goal to publish was only realized because I took inspiration and gave it the time to grow, along with proper trimming when necessary. Doing the same in our day to day lives creates beauty and order. It allows our reality to exceed former expectations, and grow into the stuff of dreams.
What do you need to edit out?
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