To Be A Writer, Let The Writer Be You

My Unplanned Writing Adventure

I always wanted to be a writer, poetry and fiction first. Fiction and nonfiction are not really opposites, though, and poetry is a component of the best in both.

A thing I never liked was doing the outlines I kept reading and hearing were imperative for good books…

Wait, that’s not quite right. I disliked it so much, I really never tried.

To me, a right hander, writing from an outline seemed like forcing myself to write left handed.

I resisted it all my life, but it wasn’t until much later that I heard about successful writers just sitting down and winging it, no outline at all.

Then, I started writing that way. I might have an end in mind, but the middle was a puzzled to be played with for weeks on end before I got there.

But A Million Different Things: Meditations of The World’s Happiest Manwas even less standard. I was idling one day when the idea for the book just came to me. It was odd because I’d never thought much about writing nonfiction books. They probably did need outlines, and I knew that publishers wanted to see outlines to go along with sample chapters.

Yet, there it was. And not just an idea. I got the outline and section titles clear as a bell in my mind. I even knew before I started how long it would be.

So, I figured, the hell with it. Take the inspiration and run.

I began writing soon after, setting a novel aside. What happened is close to what New Age believers would call “channeling” or “automatic writing.” That’s what popular authors like Jerry and Esther Hicks or Wayne Dyer do. But it wasn’t anything so esoteric or special.

Insisting on a specialness about what happens for some writers, including me now, swerves dangerously close to meeting marketing needs ahead of integrity. If it ain’t exclusive, it’s much harder to sell. So, you sell it based on exceptionalism.

What’s true though is that anyone who has ever had a hunch, an idea “out of the blue” or an intuition has done the same thing I did, albeit on a smaller scale. Forget about its source for now. No one really knows.

The debate will go on for years, but all of us seem to be up to some degree of the magic. We’re all capable have that leak into consciousness, more or less, whenever we want it. With those of us who write books, I justthink the leak is more like a plumber’s nightmare.

To Be A Writer

To be a writer is to casually accept something that comes to us from a source we can’t honestly identify. Call it inspiration. Call it ideas or intuition. You may build an outline or other scaffolding, but after that, some of it is always inexplicable.

It gushes, sometimes. I’ve always had some of that in all of my books, but what happened with A Million Different Things was more of a gully washer. Maybe that’s a little off. The volume was almost too much to manage, but it was uplifting cruise, not at all destructive. No gullies were washed.

Confession #1 about this book is that a lot of its content is about theories and ideas I’d never, as far as I know, had before I wrote the them down. Where that much came from, who knows? Confession #2 is that it all made sense to me once it was on the pages.

At the time I wrote much of it, though, honestly,I didn’t get it, and being in a gully washer, I scrambled like crazy to get it down before it got by me. No kidding.

Toward the end, maybe after the three-quarter mark, I had to abandon my usual carefulness with sentence structure, grammar and spelling because, when I tried to make it a less rough first draft, it felt like choking. Always time for a rewrite, I decided. Nobody is going to see it until I smooth out the rough spots. Why jump off the merry-go-round now?

Just rewriting the book was a trip. It was like editing a stranger’s work, a smart and inspiring stranger, but confession #3, I couldn’t remember writing chunks of what I was now cleaning up. Yet, there the words and ideas were, right in front of me, undeniably locked in the dots and dashes of my word processor’s memory.

After I finished and got A Million Different Things through the publishing process, I was reluctant to be open about how I managed to write it. Readers might take it two ways: as an admission of that I didn’t know what I was writing about (true) or a marketing gimmick a la Abraham-Hicks (leave the tackiness to them.)

So, a sort of skirted around the point. I don’t know if this helped or harmed sales. Readers seemed to like the book and said so, or they didn’t like it and kept respectfully silent.

I still flip the pages in wonder. I even wrote a second edition, clarifying a little. (Try clarifying what you’re not so sure about sometime.) But it stays with me as an experience so unique and unexpected, I try to draw from it every lesson I can about life and what it is to be a writer.

I even wrote a second similar book, but just as first love can’t happen twice, neither can a first book written out of inexplicable inspiration. You might have as much inspiration, but you’re likely to have much less wonder.

To be a writer, I guess, you have to let what your doing get under your skin. The more you open up to your inspiration, the more the adventures will resonate throughout the rest of your life. And isn’t that really the very best thing?

David Stone, Writer

Find all my books on my Amazon Author Page