On the Creation of a Story

Michaelangelo said that every block of marble has a statue inside, and it is up to the sculptor to “let it out.” Could the same be said of other forms of expression?

Inspiration is the lifeblood of those in creative fields. For a writer, this could translate into the development of story ideas, characters, plotlines, and any number of other elements that combine to form a piece of creative writing. But where do these elements come from? A likely answer would be that they come from the mind of the writer. And this is undoubtedly true but, for me anyway, it is also the case that each story idea comes with its own unique features that are inherent to the original idea itself.

I would never presume to speak for any other writer but, when I start a poem or story, I think of a general idea for any given piece of writing, usually with the beginning and ending well formed in my mind, and simply start writing. I will almost always have an idea of the major events of a story when I begin, but the smaller details will not necessarily all be worked out in my mind. For me, this is not a problem because the story exists, and so it will tell me how it goes as I go on writing. In other words, I know what a story is about and where it will end up. Then, I start writing and the details of that story reveal themselves to me as I go. For me, this is the most natural way of writing and it is just about the only way that I feel I can write (not that I have really tried any other way!). I also favor this method of writing because I feel that it provides me with a sense of security. Any time I feel like I am “stuck” and cannot continue with a story, I simply put it aside. In my mind, this simply means that the story has not fully revealed itself to me at that moment. Many times I have put a piece of writing aside, sometimes for weeks or months, only to take it up again and finish it in a matter of days at a time when I can better perceive the details of the story.

Of course, my particular method of writing definitely has its drawbacks. It is certainly not the most disciplined or efficient way of writing. If I do not feel that I can continue with a particular piece, I simply do not go on with it at that time. While I always hope that I will be able to “see” the next part of the story at a later time (and most of the time this does seem to be the case), there is always the chance that a piece will simply go unwritten. It also means that my writing often comes erratically in sometimes wildly uneven bursts – I might write one page one day and ten pages the next. And I am probably more rigidly opposed to making changes to my stories than many other writers as, to me, each work is a complete whole with features that are inseparable from that whole. As such, it can be very hard to bring myself to change even minor details such as character names as, in my perception, they are fundamental parts of the story.

I should note that by no means do I think my habit of waiting for a story to “form,” and to reveal itself in some organic manner as I write, is the best way of writing, nor do I think that it is any way more correct than any other. In my opinion, there is no right or wrong way of putting one’s ideas down on paper; there is only the way that any given individual does it. To me, the process is just that – a means for expressing oneself and recording one’s ideas. It is up to individual writers to determine what works and what does not for themselves, and to find what will allow them to achieve their personal writing goals.

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