Write well. Write often. Edit wisely.
The last couple of articles I’ve written have focused on grammar and punctuation. On rules. And while learning rules is important, sometimes we need to focus on other writing concerns. Sometimes we need to immerse ourselves in the power of our passions.
Just recently I was dramatically reminded of this need once again.
PBS stations in the U.S. showed an in-depth profile of Walt Disney this week—part of their American Experience series. For a couple of reasons, the show is worth watching. You can watch the two parts online at PBS’s website—Walt Disney.
The show focuses on Disney’s life, his successes and failures and legacy. Yet what struck me most out of the four-hour production was Disney’s drive to see his vision become reality, to see the stories in his head become stories on the screen.
If you watch the PBS show, see if the section on Snow White (beginning near the 52-minute mark) doesn’t get you thinking about your own stories, about your own drive to move the stories living in your head into a format that others can see and enjoy.
Disney was determined to not only put his stories on film, but to create a reaction in the audience, to make them laugh or cry or rage. To give them a reason to experience authentic emotion, even though the events that created those emotions were not real. Even though the events that produced those emotions didn’t even feature real people.
Disney’s twin drives—wanting to influence viewers and wanting to produce high-quality films—pushed him into creating processes and film types that had never been tried before.
His passions pushed him into innovation and creative solutions and entertainment no one had ever dreamed of.
His passions also led to failures and disagreements with others.
Yet his failures led in turn to great successes when he became even more determined to succeed, to transfer the visions of his mind and heart to the screen and to a greater audience.
If you need encouragement in your own quest to create stories that will resonate and move others, check out Disney’s story. His drive to see Snow White as a full-length film, to make sure it was a film of the highest quality his studio could produce, will be an encouragement.
When you see the reception the movie got, you’ll be reminded that hard work and painstaking attention to detail after detail do pay off.
When you see how Disney doubted if he’d done the best he could, you’ll understand that every artist wonders what kind of reception his projects will receive. (Even when the film was complete, Disney wondered how Snow White would be received. Even at the premiere, doubts worried him.)
When you see what Disney ultimately produced, you’ll be encouraged to give your dream a shot (maybe a second or a third shot), recognizing that perfection and genius can be time-consuming (and that’s okay), that the new or the worthwhile might require more from you than mediocrity or habit or half efforts.
When you see what drive and passion combined with talent and determination can produce, you just may decide to push harder, decide to fill in your knowledge or skill gaps in order to do whatever it takes to write the adventures of the characters racing around in your mind.
If you’re a new writer, just beginning your first or second novel, drive and passion are probably strong in you. Passion for writing—for using words to build worlds and birth fictional characters, to create memorable dialogue—and passion for your own plots and characters probably gets you moving in the morning and keeps you awake deep into the night.
But if you’ve been writing for a while with few true successes . . . if your dreams of writing an unforgettable novel or a life-changing story haven’t yet produced the kind of novel you know is inside you . . . if passion has given way to drudgery or the fear that you’ll never write the story you’ve always imagined writing . . . then allow me to light a spark near you today. A spark that I hope will catch hold of your dreams and light them into a blaze.
Immerse yourself inside your dreams again. Feel the passion for writing fiction race over you and skitter through you. Allow the fire and excitement to fill you and move you.
Let it feed you.
If your desire to write or the writing itself has gone cold, stir up the embers and step into them, allowing them to not only heat you, but to fire you.
Remind yourself that time is not always the enemy, that it can be an ally, that time may be the very ingredient you need to produce the novel of your dreams.
Just because you didn’t finish your epic novel in your self-imposed timeline of two years doesn’t mean that you won’t ever finish it.
Maybe you didn’t have all the knowledge you needed when you began the project, but maybe now you do.
Maybe you didn’t have the necessary skills to write a story with the kind of depth that would make readers weep or argue or ponder—but now you do.
Maybe you didn’t know enough about human nature to understand how to tap into it in a way that would create characters memorable for the ages.
But maybe now you do.
Wherever you are on your journey, whatever your goals as a writer, take a few moments today to dwell on the components of story or fiction that move you. While you’re trying to touch your readers, allow yourself to be touched by the power of the dream that started you writing.
Allow your passions to reignite if they’ve gone cold. Allow them to overwhelm if you’ve held them at bay.
Allow yourself to be swept along with your enthusiasm at least for a few moments. At least long enough to refuel the engine that keeps you not only writing, but writing with power and substance.
Whether you achieve it by watching something like a program about Walt Disney or reading a fresh new author or admiring a long sunset, stir your creative passions to new life. Remind yourself that those passions are life, life to you and to anyone else who reads your words.
Remind yourself that technical perfection alone doesn’t move readers. Readers want to see and feel. They want to experience tugs on their emotions and challenges to their minds.
They want to live, if only for a few hours, in the worlds only you can reveal to them. They want to meet, maybe pretend to be, the characters that only you can introduce them to.
Remind yourself of the power of story. And then let that power move you as you devise ways to move others.