Here’s a simple acronym to help remember how writing and all of human creation works: A. R. T. Ask, Receive, Translate. That’s all we do. We ask, “What kind of trouble should my heroine get into in Chapter 6?” We ask this question of our imagination as we would another person, meaning we don’t immediately try to answer ourselves but wait to receive the answer. When the answer comes we translate it into words. That is writing. I believe it is the receiving part that fouls most people up. Many writers believe it is the translating. It is not. That’s the easy mechanical part, the part our brains get to finally jump up and take part in. Sometimes, because we are aware that we are the ones doing the asking, we try to answer it ourselves with our brains. This never works, and is sometimes called writer’s block. Or we begin to worry that the answer just won’t come because we cannot perceive with our eyes where it comes from. Seeing is believing, we’ve been taught. Fear and impatience and mistrust temporarily halt the creative process. This is also called writer’s block.
And so we are miserable. We call ourselves a bad writer, or we phone our other writer friends and complain to them about how hard writing is. This doesn’t help either, but we are feeling bad and some part of us secretly believes this bad feeling is unnecessary and we hope complaint will drive it away. It doesn’t.
And then one morning we are taking a shower, and we are not thinking with our busy minds, and we are not impatient, and we are not mistrusting what we cannot perceive with our eyes, and as if by magic the answer appears in our minds. “Eureka!” we cry, and life is good again.
This to me is the true physics of creation. If I ask a question for which I sincerely want an answer, that answer always comes – every single time and without exception. I have come to understand that the answer must come the very same as the ball must roll down the hill and not up it. If I am quiet, the answer might come immediately. If my mind is noisy, then the answer will wait until I am done trying to answer it myself. Either way, the answer is given. Life, in this way, is like a test for which you need only invent the questions.
Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.