This year started with so much promise for many of us. 2020, the year of clear vision, a chance to look back on all we’d been through, and then to look forward to a future bright with potential, promise, and hope for change.
And then reality came swooping in and knocked us flat with a left hook that none of us were expecting, clouding our vision instead. A pandemic, wildfires, economic strain, and for many of us, very deep and personal loss, made all the more painful by our inability to gather together.
When you add to that the collective cry for justice from the Black community rightfully calling into question the very foundations of our society… can you feel the seismic shift, the shudder of the Earth groaning as she draws a breath?
With these past months, we’ve been given an opportunity to re-imagine our world. We can’t go back to the way things used to be. We must wake from our long slumber, live with our eyes wide open. It’s time to make the world in our image now.
You (yes, you) are not alone
It is easy to feel small, to feel like your voice doesn’t matter, or that your dreams are not important. Even in the best of times, a lot of us struggle with those voices that would keep us speechless.
In the face of so much suffering, worldwide, you might think that writing fiction is trivial, but the world needs our stories. The world will always need our stories.
Have you ever read a book, a short story, or a poem and felt seen? Like the clouds suddenly parted and the sun shone down on you after months of darkness? Stories have the power to move us to change, to stir our hearts. They remind us that we are not alone in the wide world, that someone else out there understands. They bring us truth, or much needed escape from reality.
In this time of intense emotion, of suffering, of deep desire for change, our stories matter more than ever.
Why we write
We write to remind ourselves that we are not alone in the world. We write to give shape to the stories that make us who we are. You may feel like no one is listening. Maybe no one has commented on your posts recently, maybe the algorithm has got you down. Maybe you’re afraid of how it will feel if someone does hear you, and responds. I want to challenge you to keep speaking your truth.
In order to live our fullest most creative lives, we must lose our fear of getting it wrong. Every truth, every story told is strengthening your voice, training your mind, and sharpening your perception. The act of creation is bold and generative. It’s powerful magic, and it takes courage and perseverance to wield it.
Find your voice
Writing and changing the world takes time, takes dedication, takes a willingness to learn. You may have stopped in the past weeks and months, and understandably so. When we go through trauma, whether individually or collectively, finding energy and motivation to be creative becomes harder. Struggles and challenges you face in the creative process that used to inspire you can seem painful and disheartening. It may take time to remind yourself what habits will make you most successful. Ease yourself back into the process. Be ready to heap loving encouragement on yourself and on your fellow writers and artists. Find supportive, creative people to help cheer you on toward your goal.
There are a couple of great opportunities coming up that can help motivate you to get words on the page.
- Writing for Change: Worldwide (www.sfwritingforchangeworldwide.org) September 7-13 (from free to $149)
Put on by the San Francisco Writers Conference, this inspiration-packed week of conversations and craft instruction are a great chance to meet like-minded writers, build your writing community, and develop your skills in the craft.
- National Novel Writing Month (www.nanowrimo.org), November 1-30 (donations accepted)
Also known as NaNoWriMo, this creative challenge is not for the faint of heart. But if you’re ready to build up your wordcount, there’s no better motivational community.
- Map Your Story (https://www.eventbrite.com/e/map-your-story-tickets-118038170345) Wednesdays, September 16-October 28 on Zoom (donations accepted)
This weekly workshop in the weeks leading up to NaNoWriMo is designed to help you plan your story as much as possible before you get started writing. We’ll discuss various methods of mapping and outlining, using resources such as Story Genius, by Lisa Cron; Outlining Your Novel, by K. M. Weiland; Save the Cat, by Blake Snyder, and The Plot Whisperer, by Martha Alderson.
However you choose to find yourself on the page, I hope to see you there soon.