Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Fiction writers know the secret: write as if.

I’ve contemplated writing articles about organization, cleaning, and time management for us creative types. I have great ideas, fresh ways of looking at things. But then I look around the apartment.

Uh, maybe not.

I’ve thought about writing an article for a women’s magazine that I’ve been published in before. The next issue is about the body. I’ve trained in the martial arts off and on for years, and would like to write what I’ve learned. But then I look down.

Not with this belly.

There’s the old saing: “Write what you know.” A part of me translates that into “Write what you can document that you know.” It’s the perfectionist, the part of me that likes to cover my butt. If only I had this place all tidied up, stopped procrastinating, and turned into a minor Martha Stewart, then I could write about getting organized. If only I were in the shape I was in three years ago, I could write about loving my body.

Truth is, if I wrote my reality at this moment, there would be precious little to write and I’d bore myself and my readers. But fiction writers know the secret: write as if. It’s not the job of fiction writers to live their characters’ lives so they can write about them. In some genres, like fantasy and science fiction, it’s downright impossible. Likewise, it’s not our job as non-fiction writers to be model citizens, superheroes, and experts. Writing, at its best, is a discovery process. Write authentically and accurately by doing thorough research. Ask lots of dumb questions. Think things through. Run your piece by someone who does know the subject, if you must. Then, send it out. I dare you.

No comments: