You have to grasp the important things in life while they’re within reach. Wait a moment, and they move away forever.
One of the thousands of attendees at RadCon in Pasco, Wash., this weekend, I didn’t go with the goal of having my creative ideas energized or even to meet other writers. Truth be told, I didn’t approach it with much in my mind other than attending the Region Five summit. But meeting with amazing writers, like Ksenia Anske and Laurel Anne Hill, among many others, stoked a much-neglected creative fire.
I remember writing with friends in high school, coming up with a script to Ghostbusters 3. It was zany, had a plot that not even the most attentive on earth could follow, and could be filmed with an approximate budget of $2.50. We only needed to buy those gigantic Campfire marshmallows at the store. While it has no chance of ever seeing the light of day, it was some of the most fun I’ve had while writing a story.
Lately I’ve been following the Unmistakable Creative podcast, hosted by Srinivas Rao. Srinivas’ book, “The Art of Being Unmistakable,” was instrumental in helping me become a reformed journalist, and pursue the creative side of writing as well as photography. His words have been an integral part in helping to make my choices in life be unmistakable. After all, we only get one shot in life. It’s a waste to spend it doing something that doesn’t draw your passion, or isn’t exciting you each day. Today, I love my job and coworkers, and am more at peace than ever before.
Last year, I attempted my first shot at a novel. I had the idea of a concept, broke it out into different acts, created brief bios for smaller characters and larger ones for the top five, figured out which themes I’d pursue (i.e. hero’s journey, false victory, temptation, etc.), and made different roles for the characters (i.e. logical sidekick, emotional sidekick, etc.). I had a good stack of regular letter-size papers, and some gigantic art sheets of paper with countless notes tying almost everything together.
Sometimes you just hit a wall, and the story doesn’t progress. I hit one, and the story didn’t.
It sat, occasionally coming into conversations throughout the past year. But it hasn’t had any time in the limelight until this weekend.
One of my favorite Bible verses is James 2:26 (MSG) – “Separate faith and works and you get the same thing: a corpse.” One can have faith, but without taking action on that faith, it slowly begins to wilt. You can believe in something all you want, but until you make your faith the core of your life, and let it encourage you to take genuine action and become a better person, it starts withering away into nothingness.
The same goes for writing. Malcolm Gladwell in “Outliers” iterates that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to truly become great at something. That’s 416 days of devoting every hour, every minute to a craft, without any sleep, and without ever taking a bite to eat. To stay focused, honed in on one subject for such a length of time is a daunting task.
Meanwhile I was just distracted by a spot of dust on my desk.
So while I can’t focus for 10,000 hours straight, I can at least stick to my dedication to learn and grow as a writer. Just like my faith, I refuse to be inactive and let my desire to write shrink. How will I grow? With self-imposed deadlines, regular writing times, and some help from a growing network of talented writers.
I’m not sure what form my writing will take over the next year, nor how often I’ll blog about my progress or random topics. Regardless, I’m so happy to feel a kick of energy and throw myself head-first into writing something new and exciting, while also improving on a novel with a story that’s begging to be told.