Freud was one of the first theorists to talk about dreams and shared his belief that dreams were doorways to our subconscious. Carl Jung went further by discussing his belief that this part of the brain is where you’ll find fountains flowing with creative and intuitive streams. Scientists have agreed that these alpha waves, present during our sleep, are a part of the intuitive mind.
Why talk about Freud and Jung, if this article is about writing?
Because tapping into your creative fountain, or alpha brain, is necessary if you want to be a great writer. It’s just as important as deciding your stories time line, point of view, theme, voice or characters.
“The good writer, the great writer, has what I have called the three S’s: the power to see, to sense and to say. That is, he is perceptive, he is feeling, and he has the power to express in language what he observes and reacts to.” ~ Lawrence Clark Powell (American Librarian, Writer & Critic, 1906-2001)
How do we get our creative juices to flow?
Like our story content, it will be uniquely individual. What works for one writer, may not work for another, but here are some suggestions and facts on the subject of writing well and being original.
According to novelist Francine Prose:
“…it’s bad advice often given to young writers-namely, that the job of the author is to show, not tell. Needless to say, many great novelists combine dramatic showing with long sections of the flat-out authorial narration that is. And the warning against telling leads to confusion that causes novice writers to think that everything should be acted out — when in fact the responsibility of showing should be assumed by the energetic and specific use of language.”
* Show don’t tell
It’s a great technique when writing creatively but stay focused and don’t overdo it. Understand your character and ask yourself; will her message be better understood if she wears a frown and slowly leaves the room, or should she tell her parents the problem? What will deliver the message most clearly to the reader?
According to Orson Scott, “show” should be used for dramatic scenes. The objective is to find the right balance of telling versus showing, action versus summarizing. Think of a song that you enjoy listening to. It’s the beat, the pulse, the rhythm, how it all mixes together that forms the tune you love. A story needs to be the right mix of all the right ingredients so the finished product will be consumed and not spit out and put back on the shelf.
Creative writing can take many forms; poetry, drama, proses, etc. In fiction writing, the following ingredients are needed, but it’s not limited to:
1. Tone, which encompasses the attitudes toward the subject and toward the audience
2. Voice, the individual style of the author
3. Setting, tone or mood, conveying one or more emotions or feelings through words,
4. Linguistic style (use of imagery and figurative language; think like Picasso and paint pictures with words! He is an example of an Alpha Brain!)
5. Setting, the time and location where the story takes place
6. Characterization, the process of creating the protagonist, allies and antagonist
7. Dialogue , the conversation and how it is reciprocated
8. Theme; unifying the ideas
9. Plot; the arrangement of events
10. Outline; the organization of thoughts/ ideas to determine techniques (foreshadowing etc)
And don’t forget point of view or how you want the cover design to look, and — ..
Take a deep breath, don’t be overwhelmed. Find your Zen or alpha:
Rule #1 is:
* Find a nice spot to call your “writer’s space” and sit.
* Take a deep breath. Write.
* Rewrite, read, research, rewrite, read, research — ..
It will be work, but if you are serious about creating a great book, you will be dedicated and write daily, read other authors and see how they develop story, re-write, re-read and learn daily.
* “Free write”: Use a scrap piece of paper and just let your thoughts flow. Release the fountain and let it pour; don’t plug the drainpipe until you think it’s empty. You don’t worry about grammar, spelling or even writing in sentences. Just jot your ideas down as they appear. Let Alpha rule!
When you’re done scribbling, put it away and go back to it later. Look at it again and let more ideas flow. Keep adding to your first canvas. Then make changes, delete or embellish.
* Plot; untangle the story line and see if it flows. How you do this is what works best for you. Use a diagram, or not. Use index cards with ideas and move them around, or not. Just figure out a way to outline and plan and know which method works best for you.
Make a blueprint, but remember:
You can’t sort out every detail ahead of time, and as every writer knows, sometimes when we’re floating in alpha, the tapping of the keyboard can take us to a place that even surprises the writer who is doing the tapping. Don’t over plan; just think of it as a blueprint for building and making sure all your “tools” are nearby. As your work evolves, you can change the chronology of the scenes, but for now, just know what the scenes are.
* Research: If you are not writing on a subject you have experience with, have lived through or know firsthand, make sure you have done your research! If it is an historical period, you have to know facts to include in the story to “paint” the background of your character’s canvas.
* Questions: With every paragraph, ask questions and never stop questioning:
Is there a hook, is it clear, am I trying too hard to use metaphors and it seems out of rhythm? Am I avoiding cliches? Can there be a more powerful word? What is the character trying to say?
Writing is the art, and editing is the tool we chip our sculpture or mold our clay with. It evolves in time and changes daily. The beauty of writing is that unlike chipping a marble statue, your lap top has the ability to save, cut and paste and store; no need to worry about mistakes because they are easy to fix.
Don’t try to be perfect or you’ll waste time. Write, write and write, then re-write, re-read, re-write-re-read…
* Don’t ignore your Alpha mind. If you get an inspiration and you feel that adrenaline rush, let it pour! Even Thoreau used to sleep with a note pad next to his bed. He was quoted for saying that he’d write in the dark for fear of forgetting his thoughts by daylight. That’s good alpha thinking!
* Also listen to Meta and Theta (alphas less colorful siblings). If you’re tired and not in the mood, don’t force it or you might end up with a lot of papers that you’ll use with the firewood in the hearth.
If there is a moral to this story, it’s this:
To become a great writer, you have to want to write, read and write daily, have others read and make suggestions; share opinions, and be willing to learn, stretch and grow. Your author’s style will develop with time, and the more you write, the better your writing will become.
Take that book idea of yours and treat it like a bean seed. Water it; give it sun and daily care. It will grow and develop a life of its own in time. Don’t think your Jack because no golden goose will be waiting for you tomorrow, but like Jack, your little seed will eventually amaze you!
* Â• “Show or Tell-Should Creative Writing be Taught?” by Louis Menand-The New Yorker, June 8, 2009, Newyorker.com
* Â• Marksberry, Mary Lee. Foundation of Creativity. Harper’s Series on Teaching. (New York; London: Harper & Row, 1963), 39.
* Â• Wikipedia online