Seems to me the best reason to write is because we want to create something no one else has read, seen, or heard before. Essentially making the unreal real. Writing magic.
But writers often fumble and stumble along the way, and soon, that desire to create writing magic fades like a broken spell.
Suddenly, writing becomes work, not the magic they were expecting, and writers drop off, one by one.
Doesn’t matter if the writer is penning fiction, a memoir, or blogging. Far too often the “job” and “weak plots” and “boring characters” and SEO and “no time to write” conspire against writers. They expect the writing magic to have happened much sooner, or even, to spark differently, with huge sales, raving fans, a plethora of awards and great reviews.
The writing magic actually already happened, but many writers miss it.
Writing is a risky endeavor because writers bare their souls to the world. Not everyone in the audience will like what they read. They might turn away in disgust or derision, and the writer will be shamed. Some writers quit at that point; others trudge onward. Why is that? What makes one writer throw his tools into the deep beyond, forever lost, while another goes on to create writing magic?
I have three reasons why some writers miss writing magic.
♦ They didn’t identify themselves as writers
♦ They didn’t state their core purpose for writing
♦ They didn’t prepare themselves for the fact that anything magical is hard work
I’m guessing this all happens because often, the urge to craft story tends to come out of thin air and smacks us directly in the head, making us see stars. Hard to be logical and purposeful when we’re woozy from the story ideas pummeling us, right?
Funny thing is that the moment we are wooed by a story idea is the first flicker of writing magic. It is a brief encounter, full of wonder and daring, but there is no doubt in my mind that magic ignites when a writer is hit by a spark of inspiration.
How I Found Writing Magic
As a kid, I was pretty content with the way the world was until one day I learned that sometimes the truth is in disguise, misused, and nothing would be the way I wanted it again. That was probably around the time I lost my innocence, my faith, my belief that goodness would always prevail. To turn the world right-side-up, I’d have to change events, change people, change outcomes. That would have been impossible.
So I wrote it instead.
I want to believe in something extraordinary, fantastical, provocative. I love how my muse lures me in with the threads of a story. So easy and stress-free to tuck in with my imagination on full setting, dreaming, fantasizing. Yet unfulfilling. Boring. The spell might be cast within my imagination, but writing magic burns steadily when we turn ideas into stories.
When I write, that’s my opportunity to speak up, answer impossible questions, change truth, evoke hope. Without story, without the opportunity to believe in something, we are left with only one chance. A sort of Russian roulette, where no one contemplates consequences, choices, or difference-making.
My ideas, dreams, wishes, insteads, and what ifs are lyrical on paper, rush through my core, give me something to believe in.
Writing magic is not found in the outcome; it is found in the process.
How to Ignite Your Writing Magic
Look at a page of some of your favorite writing. I mean, really look—and picture yourself as you were when you first wrote those words. Sit with that image for a few minutes.
♦ What meaning did they hold for you as you wrote them?
♦ Has that meaning changed over time?
♦ Were you immersed in that particular spot in your story, or were you distracted?
♦ How did you conjure those words?
♦ How did you feel when you committed them to paper? Did you throw them together because you were tired or feeling blocked, or did you carefully cultivate them?
Now, go back in time, to the moment that idea first came to you in all its brilliance and potential.
♦ Do you remember what you felt?
♦ Were you open to the idea and did you act on it right away?
♦ Did you feel nervous and not quite worthy of the task it posed?
♦ Were you excited but knew you needed to level up your ability to handle the idea? (For example, did you think you could take it on once you conducted some research, built stronger writing skills, or finished a work-in-progress?)
Writing magic was active at the point when the idea came to you and you responded. Even if you turned the idea down (no matter the reason), you were straddling the realms of reality and fantasy. You simply have to be open to the world of ideas and be in touch with all your life forces to make the most of the idea. To see if you and the idea are a smart match.
When I’m feeling a little disillusioned with my writing journey, I read favorite passages I wrote months or years ago and allow them to hurl me back in time, to the exact moment I put them down on paper. Often, I can remember what inspired a subplot to rise up, or what was going on in my life where I needed to write it out and it became a character’s personal mission.
Most importantly, I focus on how I felt when I came up with those ideas. Joyful. Surprised. Spellbound. Energized. Motivated.
Heck, I felt like a real writer. And I feel like a real writer again when I perform this exercise.
If you want to bring more ideas into your life, or feel inspired on a regular basis, keep yourself open to the writing magic around you. Because it is all around you. The world is full of ideas. Some may not be appropriate for you, or they may come at an inopportune moment, but they come knocking on the door of your imagination, all the time.
All you need to do is say, Welcome, writing magic, let’s see what we can do together.
Have you missed out on writing magic in your life? Try my suggestion above and let me know how it goes!