An interesting question was put to me a few days ago, and determining a thoughtful, honest response to it has taken time. I had to think, ponder, explore. But finally, I have a firm grip--at least, a firm grip that reflects reality to me. Your reality might be different. (I secretly hope that it is!)
The question? What writing shortcuts have you learned that can help me?
The short answer: There are none. None. Not one. Not a hint of one. Not a whiff of a sniff of a hint of one.
Writing is craft but also art, and art requires its due. You can rush it, and not focus intently enough to unearth the gems. You can nip and tuck and automate creating novel elements to shorten the process and then toss those elements together in a faster fashion, but to get to the core of those elements, you’re going to eventually have to slow down and focus intently so that you--you got it--unearth the hidden gems.
This goes beyond craft and into storytelling. That’s the art, and a gift, and you either have it or you don’t. Storytelling can’t be taught. It’s that still, quiet voice that tells the author, “You’re on the right track. This is significant. This is of value. This is infused with purpose.” It’s that drumbeat that matches the beat of your heart that thuds and echoes in your ears, signaling you that you’ve hit the mark, touched a core truth that otherwise would remain hidden. It’s that bubble in your gut, that burning that starts at the back of your nose and stings your eyes just before they fill with tears.
Some things can’t be rushed. Won’t be denied their time in the sun. Demand their due. The creative writing process is like that.
It’s the embodiment of the human condition. It encompasses all we were, are, and can be. It’s our dreams, hopes and fears personified.
It’s also why some books come to us in a flash--like a lightning strike. One minute we have nothing, the next the creation process is done and we’ve experienced an entire novel--or series of novels--in our heads. Then we work out the details. Then we begin the discovery of the hidden gems.
And it’s why some books take years and years to write. We work on them, focus and give them all we have to give, but we know they’re just not ready. We know there are underpinings yet to be discovered, and often we must wait for something to happen in our own lives that reveals them to us by giving us some new insight or perspective that lifts the scales from our eyes so we’re able to see that core truth.
There are no short cuts in writing.
There are many, many short cuts on the business end of writing, in the methods implemented to lay the groundwork for writing. But the writing itself allows none.
And for that, we should be grateful. Why? Because each project we are dedicated enough to take from a thought to fruition is a project in which there are hidden gems--ones that speak core truths to us and to our readers.
That is the reason we write. So the answer to the question is there are no shortcuts, but the journey is worth every effort because there are many, many hidden gems.