On Creativity and Independence

Published by Mallory in the blog Mallory's blog. Views: 98

First, let me say that I realize writers, especially developing writers, sometimes struggle with insecurities or worry about whether their story idea sounds interesting. I get this. I'm a firm advocate of writers (and all other individuals) being the master of their own work, hence not seeking validation, and I agree with the content of Cogito's "A story concept means nothing, it's about the way you write it" template post -- but we're all new or nervous at some point, and I think everyone has sought out someone's opinion on an idea at one point, too. I understand this.

But what I fail to understand is when people act like their writing must obey cut-and-dry formulas or, even worse, that it stands on the foundation of the approval of some mass collective. There is no "Plot-Sanctification Bureau." Writing is not a field of formulas, and it sure as hell is not a field of lemming-style followership and obedience. Fantasy and science fiction should, theoretically, be the widest frontiers of experimentation, because the stories take place in a world the author creates on their own. But some of the questions and concerns I've seen from people show that many think we're all crammed in narrow alleys (with ceilings!) when it comes to what's "okay" to write. Stop acting confined to ideas that have already been used in any given genre. Not all fantasies HAVE to use wizards, elves, mages, enchanted swords/stones, or main characters with exceptional powers. Not all science fiction stories HAVE to include spaceship crews or time travel.

Granted, there is nothing wrong with any of the elements named above. If your story calls for mages or elves, then of course use them. But don't go around asking questions like "Is it okay for elves to be ugly and live underground?" and "Is it okay for vampires to disguise themselves as PTA members?" or "Do you think people would want to read about [fill in new creature here]?"

Same goes for realistic fiction. In romance, it's okay to spice things up and have an unexpected twist of events of who gets with who. In YA, the girl doesn't always have to have a crush on her best guy friend. Again, there's nothing wrong with either of those things in themselves, but so many people act like there's a script they can't deviate too far from or certain elements that must be included. That is bullcrap.

It's as though, because certain elements have been used a lot in any given genre, people think these things are required ingredients and they have to step around testing their standing in others' eyes before breaking away in favor of something entirely new.

When writing independently --and, more importantly, when paving your own life -- breaking away from norms and other explored territory is not something to seek approval/permission to do.

And as writers -- as individuals -- the virtue we must embrace more fully is independence. We should be touting it, wearing it on our sleeve, not tiptoeing up to it like we need a grant from the rest of society to be our own person. This applies to both writing and life.

As long as your story is gripping, who cares how you write it? Writers are innovators. Innovators create. Don't be a follower; create something new.

The biggest roadblock to creativity is fear. In order to be creative, you must be fearless. Step forward. Be bold. Don't seek approval or permission. Don't be afraid.
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