Monday, September 22, 2014

The Writer's Secret Magical Genius Part 2

In our recent post, we've discovered that in all writers there is a "genius" that exists of some sort that can be harnessed and used. In this post, we are going to go through the steps on figuring out how to do that.

1. First, to get your genius into action, you must quiet your mind. Learn to hold your mind as still as your body. You will have to practice this. But, there will come a time when you'll be able to do with with some consistency.

2. Practice in Control. Repeat the procedure once a day for several days. Just close your eyes with the idea of holding your mind stead, but feeling no urgency or tension. Once a day, don't push it or attempt to force it. As you begin to get results, make the period a little longer, but never strain over it. If you cannot do this, choose something simple, like a child's rubber ball, (gray is better than something shiny.) Hold the ball in your hand and look at it, confining your attention to that one simple objet and calling your mind back to it quietly whenever it wanders. When you are able to think of nothing but the object for some moments,  take the next step.

3. The Story Idea as the Object. When you have succeeded, even a little, try holding a story idea or a character in your mind, and letting your stillness center around it. You'll see almost incredible results. Ideas will take on color and form; a character that was a puppet will move and breathe. Consciously or unconsciously every successful writer who ever lived calls on this faculty to put the breath of life into his/her creations.

4. The magic in operation. Choose a story at random. Since we are practicing, you may either choose one of your stories or a character from a well-known book. Make a rough outline of the book.l Decide on the main characters, then the secondary characters. See as plainly as possible what crucial situation you would like to put them into, and how you would like to leave them at the end. Don't worry about getting them either in or out of their dilemma; simple see them in it, and then see it resolved. Remember, we are just seeing it set in motion, the means to the end. Think over the whole story in a sort of pleasant indulgent mood, correcting any obvious absurdities, reminding yourself of this or that item which you would like to include if if it could be brought in naturally.

Now, take that rough draft of a story out for a walk with you. You are going to walk till you are mildly tired, and at the time you should be back at your starting place; gauge your distance by that. Get into a smooth and easy swing, not vigorous and athletic - a lazy, loafing walk is better at first, although it may become more rapid later. Now think about your story; let yourself be engrossed in it.-- but think of it as a story, not of how you are going to write it, or what means you will use to get this or that affect. Refuse to let yourself be diverted by anything outside. As you circle back to your starting place, think of the story's end, as though you were laying it aside after reading it.

5. Inducing the "Artistic Coma". Now bathe, still thinking of the story in a desultory way and then go into a dim room. Lie down, flat on your back: the alternative position, to be chosen only if you find that the other ma kew you too drowsy, is to sit not quite fully relaxed in a low, large chair. When you have taken a comfortable position, do not move again: make your body quiet. Then quiet your mind. Lie there, not quite asleep, not quite awake.

After a while -- it may be twenty minutes, it may be an hour; it may be two -- you will feel a definite impulse to rise, a kind of surge of energy. Obey it at once; you will be in a slightly somnambulistic state indifference to everything on earth except what you are about to write; dull to all the outer world but vividly alive to the world of your imagination. Get up and go to your paper or computer, and begin to write. The state you are in at that moment is the state an artist works in. Genius.

6. Valedictory. How good a piece of work emerges depends on you and your life: how sensitive, how discriminating you are, how closely your experience reflects the experience of your potential readers, how thoroughly you have taught yourself the elements of good prose writing, how good an ear you have for rhythm. But, limited or not, you will find, if you have followed the exercises, that you can bring forth a shapely, integrated piece of work by this method. If will have flaws, no doubt; but you will be able to see them objectively and work on eradicating them. By these exercises you have made yourself into a good instrument for the use of your own genius. You are flexible and sturdy, like a good tool. You know what it feels like to work as an artist.

Now, as homework, read all the books you can find on writing fiction. You are at last in a position to have them do you some good. :-)

Resource: Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande