February 20, 2009

Writing Unrestrained

We wash our hands before we eat, clean our homes with antibacterial products, recycle garbage, and hopefully every year make time to de-clutter. Physically, we spend a lot of energy trying to keep our bodies and spirits healthy, but what about our minds?

Though writing can be an escape to relieve stress, good writing takes concentration, and concentration requires an uncluttered mind. Just as we are what we eat, we are going to be prompted to create what we have absorbed. For this reason, though I study the genres that I am going to write in, the one stark rule I have when it comes to putting a storyline on paper is to not be engaged in a book of the same genre while I am actually writing. There are too many unconscious leaks.

For example, during the holidays I reviewed a lovely book by Linda Swift titled LET NOTHING YOU DISMAY. It’s so nice when we come across good fiction we truly enjoy! However, moving ahead a few months later, I hastily put together a one page story starter for a contest. As I read over my submission, something kept niggling the back of my mind. I later realized that I had used the main character’s name from this author’s novel, for a character in my little entry. A big deal? Not really. There’s no copyright on names, but the point is, that everything we bring into our minds whether it is positive or negative, leaves a lingering impression that we may pick up and use anywhere else in our lives, intentionally or not. In this instance, it was the influence of a book, but it could have been anything–even something beneath my moral guidelines and ethics.

Stop and think for a moment about what you put into your mind. Do you fill it with clean, uplifting, and intelligent items? If not, does your writing reflect this? A writer does not just create from the imagination; our stories can come literally from within our souls and our very guts (ever had writer’s block flare up the old ulcer?). It’s important not to saturate our brains with unnecessary clutter, and more so, just plain old trash. So think about what you are filling up your mind with when you are in the middle of the creative process. Your light needs room to shine.

Consider this:

David O. McKay, with his kindly but penetrating eyes looked at a group of Netherlands missionaries and said in essence," You are outstanding." He paused then continued, "In fact, you are so fine and so outstanding that you ought to be ashamed of yourselves for not being better than you are.”

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