Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Could a writer be too organized?

The comment took me by surprise.

I was at a meeting of my writers' group, and we were discussing ways that writers put together stories. There are some writers who simply begin with a nugget of an idea, and then go for broke - typing furiously as the ideas come, and then clearing a path of logic later. And there are others who know exactly how their story will start, have a pretty good idea of how it will end, and then spontaneously develop the path of action somewhere in the middle.

Then there are writers like me.

"I like to pretty much have stories plotted out in my head before I write," I told the group. A woman looked back at me and shook her head.

"You're too organized," she said. "You're not letting yourself be creative."

And then she turned, and started a conversation with someone else.

Apparently, she was unaware of the bombshell she had just dropped. I was too what? That was impossible. First of all, I barely made it out of my house fully dressed each morning. Secondly, how in the world could a writer be too organized? That was just crazy talk. Wasn't it?

Although there were plenty of other conversations that night, I thought about that comment long after the meeting ended. I was surprised. Annoyed. I even argued my points later to my reflection in the bathroom mirror. Then I realized something. If I was this defensive, there was probably a reason why.

Maybe she was right. Maybe all those years of journalism, of not starting a story before all the facts were gathered, before all the sources were interviewed, were working against me now. I did find it hard to begin new fiction projects - I was overwhelmed until I had every plot point worked out just so. It was exhausting. And maybe,just maybe, it was stifling my creativity.

But to sit down and just write, without having a solid direction plotted and planned? That's completely out of character for me. Frankly, it's a daunting thought.

Then again, to try something new and different - even scary? Maybe that's where true creativity is born.

No comments:

Post a Comment