Bent Wrists Lesson 10: Flickering Insight

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Writing is hard!  It hurts your wrists and back from hours scribbling with a pen or hunched over a computer.  It hurts your brain coming up with intricate plots that won’t bore a reader to tears.  It hurts your heart when you have to hurt your baby—that character you adore that you have to stretch out on the gauntlet in order to force them to expose themself on the page.

So why do we write when it’s such a painful, grueling process?  There seems to be a lot of us out there that still write.  Are we masochists?

Maybe…but I don’t think so.  I love writing because of what I learn!  When I write, I can explore all sorts of scenarios that I will never have to experience (thank goodness!)—yet by forcing my characters to live those scenes for me, I learn a bit more about the mystery that is me.

No matter how much you think you know yourself—you’ll never reach the bottom of the well that is YOU!  Human beings are the most intricate, mysterious, baffling creatures alive.   Writing is one medium by which you can study the capricious science of humanity.

Good fiction needs problems to move a story along; in real life, it’s much the same.  We don’t grow or stretch when life is easy and flowing along at a happy-go-lucky pace.  It is through trials and hardships that we are pushed to find out just how much we are capable of—or not.  But with writing, I can experience a lot more bad and learn from it a lot less painfully than dealing with it in real-time.  In fiction, I can figure out what I will do when faced with tough decisions.

There is power in confronting problems via fictional characters—both for writers and readers.  Forcing your character to make choices, helps you learn about YOU—what you believe, what you fear, and what principles you espouse.  Words—the process of writing them down—helps clarify your abstract thoughts and will add another dimension to your world.  Yippee!


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Putting ideas into words isn’t easy though.  It takes time, effort and soul-searching.  Ideas and thoughts are like flickering flames.  You can’t easily catch them or put them out.  They burn within, yet evade us when we try to capture them.  However, don’t listen to your Mom about keeping away from THIS type of fire.  Put your hands right in—this is the VIVID camp where exciting things happen.  Dive in and try to capture your ideas and give meaning to them on the dull lifeless page.  Those fiery ideas will brighten the page and your life.

Sure, there are painful moments in writing.  Sometimes coming up with a post for this blog can be excruciating.  Other times creativity flows, and those are the times I live for!  Unadulterated creativity is more thrilling than any roller coaster ride.  When it hits and is captured on the page, then I know and love that I’m a writer.  Anticipating the next creative thrill ride is what keeps me going, plugging through the pain when even Zombies don’t help.

If you write only to make money, I feel bad for you.  Statistics show that you might be sorely disappointed; it’s a masochistic goal.  But if you write because you wish to share with others and gain  joy from capturing those flickering flames of insight—then writing will be a very satisfying profession or hobby.

Peter Elbow said that “the essential human act at the heart of writing is the act of giving.”  So give, oh, give away!  Write on!


8 thoughts on “Bent Wrists Lesson 10: Flickering Insight

  1. Great post, Charissa. I think you’re right–our characters help us learn about ourselves. That may seem counterintuitive being we’re the ones who create them, but I think anyone who writes fiction can appreciate that the characters often take on a mind of their own. Hard to explain this to others, but it really is true.

    • It’s so true! That’s why I love writing. When a character finally comes to life in my mind, I don’t have to force them to do things my way anymore. That’s when the fun begins.

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    • Yes, I just got done reading that post…and now I’m putting off the inevitable…pulling up my story and going to page 77 and hoping for something good to post about. Crossing my fingers…but still too scared to look. Maybe I’ll work up the nerve this afternoon when I get a bunch of work (grrr) done.

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