Writing is the most heart-revealing exercise I’ve ever been involved with.
The writing process bares the soul, and makes the writer ponder deep and hard about the hidden caverns which need exploring but which the writer may be too squeamish to approach.
I truly believe what my college literature professor said that a reader should not and cannot judge a writer by what he or she writes. Unless the writing is meant to be autobiographical, then one cannot assume that the point of view of a character or the voice of a poem is indeed one and the same as the writer’s.
While that may be true, I do also believe that the writing process in itself reveals the writer’s heart. And while the final result may not be autobiographical, the writing itself can not completely wriggle itself free from the desires, struggles, and feelings of the writer.
Last weekend I posted how I felt that my brain had been hi-jacked by an idea for a play that I couldn’t shake. The thoughts kept gnawing at me to the point where I could not concentrate on the story I had been working on. So I set aside novel number four and just started writing what was on my heart.
This particular topic was difficult for me to write for a variety of reasons. I didn’t really want to write this play, but again, I couldn’t shake it. I didn’t particularly like where the play was going, but again, I couldn’t shake it. I didn’t like the one character; I didn’t like the dialogue I felt was necessary for that character; I didn’t want to continue, but I keep writing every day over that weekend.
A week later, the play is out of my mind, sitting there ruminating on the pages. But I am free from it, for now.
This whole process taught me an important lesson: writers should just write what is on their hearts. For one, it can be a cathartic experience just getting your thoughts explode and explore on paper. Sometimes simple expression is all that is needed, regardless of whether the writing will or will not end up as a published work.
Secondly, writing what’s on your heart forces you to be honest with yourself. It requires a lifting of judgment or prejudice and allows freedom of expression. What’s great about writing is that there is no rule that says what you write has to be shared with anyone. Perhaps no one will ever see this play, but I’m glad I wrote it.
Lastly, the heart is often times the genesis of the process of creative discovery. I am always more passionate about topics which are close to me. The other day someone told me that I should write a YA novel. I basically responded ‘no’ and that I have no desire to do so. It’s not that I have anything against YA, it’s just that nothing has ever been impressed on my heart that would fit into that category. Why would I want to force the issue just because it’s a popular genre? I don’t think I’ll ever be that kind of writer. Above all I have to be true to myself. I think the best writer’s always are.
And as far as I know, truth is always not too far from the heart.
So if you ever get stuck and don’t know what to write next, look internally. There’s something there ready to come out.
Like my unexpected play.