Where does it come from? The ideas? The overwhelming curiosity?
The pull toward fruition all writer’s feel. Sure, we battle against project completion because of our fear of failure, or more likely, fear of success. That’s a topic for another blog. Today, let’s explore the extraordinary CREATIVE PROCESS.
My theories about the writer’s creative process vary and bounce like a rubber ball. My Facebook personal page has over 4,700 author friends, and I’ve heard it all. One author swears all her story ideas come from her dreams, that she dreams from beginning to the end, and trusts those dreams completely. I can’t question her beliefs. I think I read somewhere that when Ernest Hemmingway went to sleep, he requested ideas for the next day’s writing and always received them. Dreams can be powerful; all one has to do is remember them.
Me? I never do.
I also hear a lot about the Muse, those mysterious nine goddesses from Greek and Roman mythology. They have tough jobs, to preside over the arts and sciences. Writing is an art, and it’s a science. It’s laden with creative impetus and technical parameters. Of course, all artists, whether writing or painting, creating a sculpture or building structures, break those rules. Take a look at e. e. cummings and Frank Lloyd Wright. These were creative people, dealing with their Muse, and not-so-politely showing the rules the door. They were the creative people who live and produce on the cutting edge. They expand the whole world, not just the world of writing or architecture. And today, that pressing of the envelope continues.
Another thing authors love to talk about is the powerful art of storytelling, an art that dates back to the beginning of man. Whether this storytelling was conveyed in grunts, dance, pantomime, or painted images on buffalo hides, it preserved the history of a people. Tribes and clans had specialty personnel, a medicine person, a clown, a chief, a healer, a witch, and a storyteller. So, each clan’s story was told from a singular teller’s point of view. Their stories were passed down from generation to generation. How much of that kind of storytelling can we trust as truth? Whether we’re writing our own memoir or a story about a historical character who has little documented about them, (I’m currently researching Queen Aliquippa, Iroquois Clan Mother from the 1700s, and finding minimal information,) we’re always going to need strong fiction threads to weave in to complete the piece. This is where real storytelling becomes legend and fantasy, it’s where fiction seeds take hold and grow.
That leads me to another theory.
(As you can tell, I have a LOT of writing theories.) During my years of working with and coaching authors, I’ve seen what I like to call one-dimensional, two-dimensional, three-dimensional, and even four-dimensional writing. Let me extrapolate.
The flatness of a one-dimensional writing style can be very effective for certain goals. Writing press releases, for example, require nothing more than who, what, where, why and when. Elaboration and emotional salesy phrases are frowned upon by reporters, whose only goal is to find solid news. It’s their job to elaborate, but only after being enticed enough to follow through and dig deeper with the writer of a good press release. Educational math books and technical manuals also require a strong 1D writing approach. The last thing you want in the middle of trying to put together your IKEA bookshelf is a joke about three men and a pickled herring in a bar. 1D writing has its place and should be respected. With all its qualities, it has no value in fiction.
Two-dimensional writing is a historical writer’s best friend.
In no way does this diminish the quality of writing or storytelling, it simply honors the absolute truth. It’s the difference between The Love Letters of Henry VIII to Ann Boleyn and The Other Boleyn Girl. One is based on actual letters, the other is based on creative assumption, the best fictional tool authors have. True historical books find facts and convey them, great creative historical fiction finds facts and expounds upon them.
That brings me to three-dimensional writing.
It’s a basket of wonder and curiosity that tumbles a writer down the rabbit hole. What if this, and what if that, are the paths to real success when thinking about 3D fiction. When exploring the millions of ways ideas come to feed our imagination, a lot of fiction is based on something real—an event, a photo, a story we heard as a child, something we read in a newspaper or overheard in the produce department. 3D writing takes real events (the same way historical fiction does) and develops it into a new animal, inserting twists and turns, and pushing characters to their limits. 3D writing grips me and holds on tight. Whether I’m doing some 3D writing or 3D reading, it feeds my soul and drags me toward that precipice where reality has stretched so thin, only something miraculous can happen.
And I have yet to touch on my theory about my all-time favorite creative process—four-dimensional writing. 4D writing explodes on the page, using elements from all creative processes, and exploits every possible rule ever devised to hold our fingers down and keep things believable. Fantasy, science fiction, and experimental writing float my, and many readers’, boat! When working with writers of these genres, my heart pounds just listening to their unique creative methods, how rooted they are in reality, and how committed they are to shattering any concept of certainty their readers ever had. These are the most fun clients to work with, especially when it comes to their marketing because they look at marketing the same way they look at writing… with no holds barred. To them, rules don’t apply and everything, probably even doing laundry, is a creative experiment. These folks are my tribe. High fantasy, urban fantasy, supernatural, paranormal, or just plain, weird. It’s all enchanted.
For all writers, it’s truly a magical, mystical, multi-dimensional process.
The trick is to trust ourselves! Believe in the process we see as our own, and take that leap. Rules be damned, pull elements from every muse that speaks, every dimension that presents, and every idea that flaps in the wind. Overhearing a news story of a ten-year-old boy who walked fifty miles just to see what he could see should perk your ears and make you salivate. What kind of character would this boy be in your fictional world? What magical things would he find at the end of his journey. Nothing is off limits, my dear writer friends. There’s nothing you can do but be what you are, an explorer of worlds, a creator of worlds, and a communicator. Forget about your fear of failure, or fear of success. Live your writerly life on the cutting edge of creation. Write on!
Join Deb in September, October, and November for the PRISM MARKETING SYSTEM Live Webinar Workshops series.
Bridging the Gap between Creative Writer and Marketing Author
Marketing is a very scary prospect for authors. It seems like a foreign language meant to be spoken in a far off land without an embassy to help explain the culture. None of this is true. It isn’t marketing that’s the issue—it’s a fear and general misunderstanding of marketing in relation to an author’s talents and skill set.
Authors are creative people who solve problems within their imagination. Just because they’ve never been creative within the marketing universe does not mean they can’t. In fact, the more creative a marketing author is, the further they step away from the competition, and the more book sales success they will find.
Write Brain/Left Brain is the goose with the golden egg. These pages open doors to thinking outside the box and away from the noisy competition. It encourages authors to see the bigger book buying world, imaginatively seek out broader audiences, and always trust their creative nose to accomplish their book sales goals. This book is designed to remove an author’s fear of marketing and replace it with the inventive possibilities specific to the book marketed.
Authors, open your mind and take the empowering leap into the astonishing, imaginative marketing playground.
Awesome, heart-centered help from someone who really knows what she’s doing.
Demi Stevens, owner, Year of The Book Press
Before spending time with Deborah Riley-Magnus, I thought marketing was the devil—or at least beyond my capabilities—so I did little to promote my books. The proof was in my sales which were great with my friends, and friends of friends, but did little more than that. After working with Deb, I have a whole new outlook, realize there are many creative ways of marketing, and am excited about my next steps. I write books I know my readers will love… now I’m ready to go find my audience.
Gloria Baer Bostic, Author
Deb’s marketing advice made a world of difference in how I described a book I was querying. Using what she taught me in my query letter got agent attention immediately. I started getting requests for my manuscript where before I wouldn’t hear anything. I’ll always consult with Deb before querying. She’s a treasure!
Jen Sako, Author