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See It


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See It

It can be a really difficult concept to grasp for a vast majority of people, you know? Especially those who don't find themselves driven by a certain creative passion.

I mean, I used to think..."Well, yeah. Of course there are going to be a few people who don't understand the idea behind it, and there's no way for me to effectively explain it to them in a way where they can truly absorb the concept in the same way that I can." But after years and years of looking for kindred spirits online and offline...it became clear that most people have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about half the time when it comes to my writing or why it means so much to me. And this goes from my closest friends, to my family, to my own mother. When I talk about writing and how deeply it runs inside of me and how much I wish I could do it every second of every day...they really don't get it.

This used to really baffle me at first. Sometimes, it would even frustrate me to the point of being really ANGRY that they didn't seem to want to understand what I was telling them and made a deliberate effort to keep it that way. It was like they discarded or trivialized one of the most important parts of my personality, my heart, my mind, my life...and didn't seem to feel any remorse about it. How can this be? You know? What is so complicated about what it is that I'm trying to tell you right now?

But...the truth is...

It IS rather complicated. To them it is at least. And what was once such a frustrating burden that made me feel isolated and disenchanted with the whole process...became a truly liberating feeling that I wasn't really paying attention to before. And if you can see I for yourselves, and truly tap into it, you will be able to raise your storytelling abilities beyond anything that you ever thought was possible before. But it takes a shift in your thinking to make that happen, and a sincere appreciation for a skill that was never meant to be explained or taught to other people.

That being said...

Let me take a shot at explaining this and teaching it to other people! Hehehe! See? We're making progress already!

Somewhere early on in the "Gone From Daylight" series, I shared a true story of something that my art teacher once told me at a very young age. Being a huge fan of cartoons and comic books and my head full of all of these stories that I wanted to tell...I used to rally get upset and mentally punish myself for not being able to draw things and have them look the way that I wanted them to look. She could see the bitterness on my face and she would tell me to relax. Mostly because I was trying too hard and getting upset to the point where discouragement was beginning to settle in. It's at this point where a lot of people give up on something that they might end up being really good at if they can just hang in there and stick with it. And I was reaching that point at lightning speed. And I'd crumple up my paper, rip it in half, or scribble stuff out to the point of almost tearing a hole in the page. Hehehe, I was a passionate little brat. Don't hold it against me. And there was a day when I just came right out and asked her if she could just teach me how to draw. I mean, she's a teacher, right? That's her job. And even after all these years, I remember what she told me. She said, "Nobody can teach you how to draw. But I can teach you how to see." Now, I think I was in the fifth or sixth grade at the time, so that took a lot more explanation and working with me on her part, but I eventually got a hint of what she meant...and everything else began to slowly but surely fall into place after that. Not all at once, of course...but I was able to make enough progress, day after day, to keep pushing forward to see if I could get even better instead of just aggravating myself for not getting it perfect on the first try.

That still sticks with me to this very day. You have to know your talents, your advantages, and the tools at your disposal. You have to know them better than anybody else out there. I'm not talking about memorizing certain rules or writing formulas or tips and tricks of the trade. You have to find, recognize, and believe in your ability to do what you do best. Seek it out. Every memory you have, every emotion you've ever felt, every interaction that you've ever had with other people (both good and bad), is something that can be mixed in with the core elements of who you are as a person. And you have no idea how brightly that shines when you find a way to pour that heart and soul into your writing in a naturally fluid and captivating manner.

Hmmm...I feel like I'm losing my focus here...

You know how you can walk around in your house in the dark with hardly any trouble at all? It's easier with the lights on, but you know where the couch is. You know how far the coffee table sticks out, where the light switch is in the kitchen, or how to feel around for your alarm clock even when you're half asleep. You don't have to really 'guess' at what you're doing. There's an inner sense within you that can allow you to see it without even seeing it. When you sit down at your keyboard with an idea in your head...your writing isn't all that different. You know, in your heart of hearts, exactly what it is that you have to do. Take a moment and think about it. 'See' it.

I know people online who have been infinitely helpful to me online, because they can look at a computer code and figure it out as if it was easy as reading a children's book. People who can draw a million times better than I ever could when they're just absentmindedly scribbling on a piece of scrap paper to pass the time. They can play the piano, or the guitar, or match the colors of an outfit, or cook a gourmet meal, or look at a car engine and see any flaws or problems with it in a matter of seconds. If those people had to explain to me what they do and how they do it...it would be a difficult task to pull off. It's just something that they know how to do. It comes as second nature to them. How do you translate something that comes so casually to you into words that somebody else can actually understand and apply with any level of skill to their own projects, even with years and years of training? And even then they might not be able to reach a level of being unique or standing out as one of the greats. It's something to think about.

But if writing is your passion...then recognizing the almost intangible nature of creating your own stories out of thin air is a way to find and sharpen your greatest instincts. Even if you never realized that you had them with you the whole time.

Hehehe, why am I suddenly imagining Dorothy in "The Wizard Of Oz" clicking her heels three times to get back home?

Take a look at the two videos below. This is a very very young Justin Bieber displaying a natural talent for playing the drums and keeping a steady beat. A LOT of people really cannot do this...but in the first video, he's two years old. TWO! And in the second video, he's only nine! You can't say that he's had years of instruction or formal training to be able to pull this off, because not even old enough to make that claim. BUT...he can look at a surface, get a beat in his head, and when it comes to pulling it off...he can just 'see' it. Everything is laid out right in front of him, and his brain just processes the act of manifesting that sound and creating that rhythm by allowing himself to full engage with whatever it is that he has to work with in that particular moment. It's not really what I would call a thought process...it's more like being able to identify the colors in a rainbow. You see them. You know what they are. And whether you can explain them someone else or not, you can automatically translate into something more concrete for other people to pick up on. And it only gets better with time.

Just look at this for a moment...

 

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Now, what you should notice right away is the fact this isn't just some rehearsed routine with rules and guidance and limitations. Somehow...what's happening here is that he is actually able to see the limitless 'colors' in his pallet when it comes to building a beat, and he's able to recreate them in a different form. One that we can hear and enjoy. There's something inside of him that he knows how to bring it to the surface for the rest of us to experience in a way similar to the way he experiences it. You can't ask him how he did that or get him to really teach you much more than the basics...but if you sat down and practiced your ass off at those basics, you might be able to see it too. Not the rules of drumming, not the rhythmic cadence needed, or how to mimic someone else's solo...but there's a barrier that you can eventually break through and understand whatever it was that Justin Bieber was able to understand as a two year old.

Writing is no different, in my opinion. But you have to be able to see it. You have to be able to feel it. In your mind, there are millions of conversations, movie quotes, special moments, deep thoughts, song lyrics...ask yourself what they meant to you and why? But don't just concentrate on the translation of someone else's vision...focus on how it made you feel, and think about how you would translate that emotion into words of your very own. It takes some work and some soul searching...and there may be days when the appropriate words won't come to you right away...but don't take shortcuts. And don't feel discouraged if you have to struggle with finding a way to say what you're trying so hard to say. Visualize it. See the aura surrounding your expression and cross that bridge into making it concrete so other people can feel it too.

The more you work at it, the clearer that vision will become. You will find ways to tap into a part of the creative process that many authors simply can't. Naturally, I have to go back and edit and fix up my word mechanics and check my story continuity and all of that...but that's not where the power of my story is going to come from. I'm always trying to make sure that my ideas are executed as effectively as possible...but being able to 'see' the story is the core of the story itself. And the emotional wallop is the most important part in my eyes. The rest I can fix in post. Hehehe!

I have had a bunch of people tell me that they couldn't understand why I can't toss chapters out faster than I often do. They look at it like, "How hard can it possibly be to type out 3000 to 3500 words a few times a week?" And it can be really hard to get them to understand that I'm not just typing...I'm WRITING. There's a huge difference. And if they can't figure out what that difference is...I really don't know how to explain it to them. It will just have to remain my own little personal mystery until they figure out how to apply the practice to something that they're personally passionate about. It's the only way that it'll ever make sense.

That's it for now! But if this made some kind of sense, and stimulated some writer's growth for you guys, then I'm glad! Feel free to add your two cents down below if you have anything to add or just want to share your own experience! It's always good to hear from a variety of perspectives, after all!

Take care! Stay beautiful! And I leave you with a late teen Justin Bieber as he evolved even further by being able to see and translate his art for the masses. Some passions just become a vital part of who you are over time. So never give up! And look for my article on 'Writer Experience' a bit further down the road. You'd be surprised what's possible when you reach the higher levels! :P

 

 

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Another great post. Sometimes the most nebulous of concepts can be the most helpful when they make people think. This is all about self-reflection, and it is, as you say, as important as grammar, spelling, sentence structure, etc.  One of my profound weaknesses is assuming everyone is exactly where I am in this process, and they aren't. Some are far ahead, others not as accustomed to looking inside themselves for inspiration. It would serve me to remember that. 

Thanks again. 

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Typing is not writing. i loved that part!  If only it were. Writing is weaving and chemistry. You need a solid foundation when  you mix things up so that they do not blow up in your face.

i couldn't write during the worst of covid and lockdown. Instead i took up knitting and added crochet to that as well.  It helped me create things i could see when i couldn't get anything from the writer inside of me.  i needed to do something.

i still knit and crochet but i'm writing again and it all feels really good.

Thank you for another excellent article.

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 I'm so glad that this article made sense! Hehehe, sometimes it's hard to put my thoughts and writing process into words! Thanks for the feedback! MWAH!

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