Control freak. Perfectionist. All good and well when it comes to getting things done, honing one’s craft, upping that A game. But these traits can be downright detrimental to the creative process – and can be the difference between a first-rate piece of writing and one that’s merely “good.”
When I first began my career as a writer, I’d carefully plot out the beginning, try every cute little lead in an article, even map out an outline.
But somewhere along the line, I made a powerful discovery. All that planning and mapping was actually making me less efficient, less excellent. It was interfering with the creative process.
I had to learn to let go of myself in writing, and let the story take hold – and take over.
Soon I realized something magical: If I surrendered myself while writing, the story would actually write itself. The characters – fuller and richer than I could possibly have dreamed up on my own – would develop out of thin air, complete with names! The plots would be far more intricate, the themes artfully laced throughout. Whether fiction or journalism, it didn’t matter.
While in more complex writing (novels, longer articles, etc.) I do chart a rough idea of the structure or plot, I don’t let myself go too far. Once I feel that telltale storywriting itch begin to work its way through me, I stop. Fingers poised over my Mac, I bow my head, close my eyes, take a breath and lose myself. I actually say the words aloud: Take me out of this.
And in losing myself, in letting go, the true story is unleashed like never before.
Try it. It’s absolutely liberating.