Hope everyone made it through Friday the 13th, 2020 version.
I myself am still in Friday and am seated with a heating pad on my neck because of some whiplash from the Mouse King (The Nutcracker rehearsal collision. It went a bit like this….)
But we’re gonna step away from this for a little while.
Rules were made to be broken (my neck wasn’t)
Waaay back when I was applying for college (one day we’ll get into my college story, but it is not this day), I had to write a lot of papers explaining my “why”. Why I had chosen the majors I had chosen (at the time those were Film and Dance)
It was….a miserable process (I wrote a post about it here and am expanding on it now). Essay writing was never so painful as it was then. It was like pulling teeth from a hungry hippopotamus who thinks your face looks like a snack. I slaved over trying to write my “why”, hating everything I wrote.
Every single draft I wrote was awful (including the ones I sent in), and neither my mom or I could figure out why I couldn’t write this fairly simple thing.
Well, five or so years later, I’m beginning to figure out what went wrong. (At this point you’re probably wondering why this has plagued me so much. Why worry about an essay I had trouble writing in high school? Because that question “why” comes up a lot. Everyone wants to know you’re why. Cover letters must be written, repertoire concerts will be centered around it….etc)
And what went wrong was this: I wasn’t writing as me.
I’ve always been a creative writer, and even though I can write a formal essay, my natural state is more colloquial with parenthesis and a near abandon to any sort of form or style. Let there be movie quotes and asterisks.
So when I sat down to write those essays, I sat down to write an essay. I sat down in the Essay Box, where you need a formal introduction, explain what you will be talking about, make your points, prove your points, and then neatly some it up with some moving phrase that will stick with the reader. I sat down in the Essay Box, and couldn’t move.
NOW, I have nothing against the structure of essays, because in fact, no matter how chaotic all my blogs are, they do in fact, follow this structure. Beginning, middle, end. All writing must follow this formula or it becomes mushy-mush.
But creativity is all about thinking OUTSIDE the box, so if you stick yourself in a box, there goes your creativity. And I stuck myself in the Box of Essays and couldn’t get out.
Recently I had to write a cover letter. But I didn’t step into the same old box. My first thoughts weren’t “structure”. They weren’t “I have to prove my point in a formal and organized manner”. I instead wrote as myself.
Because when I sat down, I really didn’t think of anything. I thought of what I wanted to say. I didn’t think of what I wanted to prove. I had something to say, and I wrote it.
And I’ve heard writers getting caught up on this. That they thought too much about story structure and it squeezed the life out of the story. All plot and no story (that doesn’t make sense but it does). You stick yourself in a box and all you’re gonna get is a box.
Because rules are made to be broken.
We gotta follow structure, but it’s not rocket science. Nothing bad will happen if you veer away from the three-act story structure (or essay structure), especially in your first drafts. So let’s not stick ourselves in boxes.
I’m gonna continue on this topic later this week for my Wednesday post, though switching it up a bit.
On a side note, let’s just take a minute to appreciate the Mandalorian (spoiler free)
One of these days maybe I’ll do a post on the Mandalorian.