What shapes a writer’s creative mold?
For some, it’s a single event, or a person. Maybe a few separate turning points.
For others, it’s a collection of activities and accomplishments. Things they’ll always go back to, when they think about how they got here. Wherever “here” is.
I didn’t become a writer overnight. It’s taken years. And a lot of studying, “relaxing,” and hours upon hours upon hours of … yep, Netflix.
These are the reasons I can call myself a writer.
School. Despite all the years I spent wishing I didn’t have to study (many of them are documented ever-so-eloquently very early on in this blog’s archives), I have my degrees to thank for the luxury I have to write for a living. I spent many ours deep in both the arts and sciences (English and nutrition specifically), and I use both of those backgrounds daily, both at my job and throughout my personal projects.
Even if you don’t think formal education is for you, there’s value in it beyond a piece of paper. You’d be surprised what you can learn even when you’d rather not.
Video games. One of the first computer games I played as a kid that wasn’t strictly educational (Reader Rabbit, anyone?) was the original Star Wars: Battlefront game. When you’re running around as a soldier and there’s no linear dialogue to follow, you have a lot of time to think — and make up stories in your head. I started crafting elaborate backstories for my player. I even tried to stay alive because the character I’d created had a family to go home to, for goodness’ sake.
I still love gaming, but I’m more in it for the story than anything else. To me, a good game is crafted around a well-written story. I’ve never written a game, but I’ve started writing stories either based off them or that could be adapted into a game at some point. It makes me happy.
Traveling. I haven’t done much traveling throughout my life. I’ve left the United States twice in 25 years. But one of those times involved traveling with my classmates to Guatemala on a mission trip, an experience that completely changed my life. A draft of a book I wrote a few years ago focuses largely on a community like the one we spent time with. It’s a huge part of the story. I couldn’t help but share the things I’d experienced in story form. I’ll probably do it again.
Movies, TV, books, etc. I consume about as much media as I create. It’s a balance I have to maintain in order to keep the ideas flowing. One of the first stories I wrote (and finished) was a Star Wars fanfiction, because I loved the universe so much. Those stories, and obviously many others, showed (and still show) me what both good and not-so-good storytelling looks like.
I don’t understand how people claim they don’t have time for other media when their goal is to create their own. It’s important to know what’s out there. To expose yourself to what others have done and are doing. To discover not only what works and doesn’t, but what interests and excites you, and what does not.
Fitness. I run. A lot.What does this have to do with writing? Maybe everything. Sort of like gaming, running forces you to think, and imagine, and wonder. When I’m running, I feel, in a way, invincible. And confident. All my anxiety and fear, for a time, disappears. And guess what that means? For awhile, I stop doubting my crazy ideas. I let myself think big. And it’s SO FUN.
Some people have shower epiphanies (and I guess I have those occasionally, too). But when I’m deep in a runner’s high, I get All The Ideas. Some of the best things I’ve ever created, I’ve come up with while running. For that reason, at least, I can never stop.
Well, those are the things that have gotten me to where I am today. How about you?
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.