Write What You See

Before I discovered writing, I was an artist. I loved to draw and paint (still do, but writing is my love now). I spent most of my childhood and early adult life in artistic pursuits. People who don’t draw (or write) often marvel at it. Like its magic and only those gifted with “talent” can create pictures or write stories. I feel sad when I hear that.

Here’s the secret to drawing/painting:

  • Draw what you see.
  • Practice. A lot.

Really look at the object or world as it exists in front of you. Not what you think it looks like. Maybe some of you have heard of drawing from the right side of your brain? It’s a process that can be learned with practice.

Writing is the same way. It’s a craft like any other. Some have a natural inclination towards writing and others have to work harder at it. Just like anything, really. Natural ability will only take you so far. You have to want to do it and have faith that you can succeed.

No matter your skill level, there’s still plenty to learn. I think once you’ve made the decision that you don’t have to learn anymore – you’re doomed to stagnation. Creativity needs to be fueled with new experiences and other ways of seeing the world.

I’ve read interviews by published authors who say that they write what they see. The story unfolds in their minds like a movie and they record the events as they happen.

That’s often how it works for me too. I actually see scenes and hear dialogue. It’s very exciting when the story comes that easily. And when it does, I just hope that I’m near my laptop so I can get it all down. Even more exhilarating is when my characters stop being theoretical and come to life.

I’ve had writers tell me that they don’t like to let their characters go off on their own. When I don’t listen to my characters or follow along, the story suddenly stops working for me. Just like drawing what’s really there, I say – let your characters have some freedom. Who knows where they might lead you and the story?

You can probably guess what I’m going to say about writing. Write what you see and practice. A lot!

How do stories reveal themselves to you? Post a comment and share. I’d love to hear from you.