The writer as a god

Being a writer is like being a god.

OK, I’m not advocating idolatry, just the idea that a writer can create entire universes, planets, people, places and situations. (I know, “Tell us the obvious, you hack!”)

And this is the kicker point in what turns out to be a series of posts on the creative process: the writer sees the whole story from beginning to end, as a whole. Like God does human history. He sees all of history, from the Beginning to the End, all at once. And naturally, He can see individual parts…

And in this creative process, the writer can do whatever is wanted, I don’t have to write the story in its chronological order (start at the beginning, then proceed on to the middle and finally wrap it up). I can approach the story in any part, scribble new stuff, edit older parts, and even rearrange things.

From a person who has had a bazillion hang-ups concerning writing, and who has really taken to the idea of “writing as therapy,” this is liberating.

As a side note, it can be a solution to “writer’s block.” My typical approach to preventing writer’s block is to have multiple fiction projects going; if I’m stuck on one, I can move to another. The differing parts of a story can have this same affect. Stuck on what to do in one section, move to another section.

I have the idea that “writer’s block” may just be a fear; a fear of completion, of success or failure. A fear of facing the writing process and thinking “Oh, crap, I can’t do this… I’m not good enough.” Hang ups get in the way and the creative process is stopped. I don’t know, I’ve never really experienced the phenomenon, my historic excuses for “not writing” never included it. But I’m thinking that if you “just write,” regardless of how you feel, and have multiple things to do, then it shouldn’t ever be a problem. (Remember the Hemingway quote. )

A god doesn’t get “blocked.” 😉

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3 Responses to The writer as a god

  1. Agreed, about the creative process and storytelling. J. R. R. Tolkien, and, apparently, C. S. Lewis, had the same idea about writing – at least where fantasy writing is concerned. Tolkien’s phrase was sub-creation. Here’s a pretty good discussion of the idea: http://www.cslewisinstitute.org/node/1207

  2. Tolkien and Lewis! If I can write 1/100th as well as they did!

  3. I’m reading that article now. I’m enjoying and relating very well to Lewis’ concept of the Author as the Creative Impulse and the Man as the Instructor (an attempt or desire to influence thew writer’s contemporary world. Somewhat similar to the theory of Harlan Ellison’s in which he says something to the effect that a writer has to be a filter for his contemporary world. A good writer observes his surroundings and diffuses them through his works, or uses his writing to comment on the contemporary scene. Ellison is an influence, though somewhat muted by now.

    I do have an affection for Tolkien’s more self-contained theory. I should point out that I haven’t read any Lewis (yet), but I have read Tolkien’s “Hobbit,” “LOTR” and the “Silmarillion.”

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