Story creation often begins with an idea or an image that ignites your imagination. You become curious, wanting to know more, to see how it is going to play out. The desire to write is connected to the desire to resolve something you don’t yet understand. However, there can be a tendency to objectify the creative experience. You want to believe that you are in control, that it is your job to figure out your story. The problem with this is that when you think you know what is going to happen, you don’t allow your characters to surprise you.
Staying curious means you trust your characters, even as they lead you away from your idea of where you think the story should go. You must allow them this privilege.
If you don’t allow your characters to stray from your preconceived vision of the story, your work risks becoming predictable. It is not that your ideas are wrong; it is just that, sometimes, we fail to grasp the depth of conflict required to satisfy what we’re trying to express. Your characters want something — the stakes are life and death. By going after what they want, they will meet with antagonistic forces. Allow them to struggle mightily. Your scenes will reward you dynamically, and dramatize your ideas in ways you may not have anticipated. Your work will become more specific.
Embrace the Possibilities through Your Curiosity
We must approach our work from a place of wonder, of “anything is possible.” When you let go of the pressure that you’re supposed to solve something, or that there is something you ought to know, you can relax and ideas and images naturally accrue.
There may be a period of time when the story doesn’t cohere. You may have a series of disparate images, a sense of your protagonist at different points in your story. You may wonder how on earth they are going to get from here to there. Understandably, this can make you nervous — or you can get excited by how dynamic your story is becoming. As long as you hold it loosely and stay connected to that initial impulse, your story has a way of telling you where it wants to go.
Your subconscious seems to be constructed in such a way that it is forever searching to find order in chaos. It is the ultimate Mr. Fix-It. You don’t need to crack the whip. In fact, it is when you start bullying your subconscious to produce that it starts shutting down.
It seems that the more you show up for your writing each day, the less credence you are inclined to give your anxiety. Every day is different, and there is little connection between your feelings and the quality of your work. When you surrender to your curiosity, your story reveals itself in ways you may never have imagined.