A long time ago I wrote a post ‘Writing Super Powers I Would Like to Have’. And as cool as it would be to have time travel powers so I could jump back to London 1813 and document what it was really like…I finally had to consider:
I already have an array of awesome writing powers at my command.
As do you, fellow Traveller on the Writing Path. Let’s acknowledge some of them!
Here they are in no particular order:
1. The Power of Resiliency
I have always known I was resilient. Indeed, I’ve oft commented about it on this blog. But it wasn’t until a recent setback that I truly, truly understood the depths of this power.
Writers keep coming back to writing. Boom! No matter what. Knock us down any which way, and we will (eventually) get back up again.
- Writing lost due to a corrupt file? Mourn a little. Then get back up and start writing again.
- Stuck: don’t know what happens next in your novel? Eventually, an idea will come to you. You’ll get back up and start writing again.
- Too busy to write? Life getting in the way? You’ll make time, somehow. You’ll get back up and start writing again.
- Think your writing is awful so why bother? You’ll edit it. Or start over. Or make something else. Or learn what you need to do to make it better. You’ll get back up…and start writing again.
Taken into the publishing sphere, writers will hang around through the NO NO NO NO NO NO NO responses…hoping, eventually, for that one YES. Or we’ll throw ourselves into indie publishing, and push the hell out of our raison d’être.
We have an astonishing durability. A high capacity for hope. The grumpiest writer around is still an optimist. Putting words to paper is a primal assertion; an aspiration for connection (even if it is only connection to self…though I argue here that is it usually much more than that).
Resiliency = super strength deluxe!
2. The Power of Investigation
Like other artists, writers dare to dive deep. No matter what genre, writers inherently need to explore ideas/emotions/contexts/histories–and for that, we are brave adventurers, willing to go out of our comfort zones–or to at least map it to the nth degree.
That doesn’t mean we are all writing meaningful, heartfelt, ‘literary’ pieces. Look at my novel, for instance. It’s a regency soap opera, for crying out loud.
And yet within it I must confront myriad emotions: grief, despair, elation, lust.
I must research the history of the period, which isn’t all dinner parties and games of whist (i.e.: revolution, rebellion, slavery, poverty, crime).
I make myself familiar with the astonishing real life characters of the time (Byron, Shelly [Mr. and Mrs], Prinny, Wolstencraft, Wordsworth, Brummel, et al)…and their lives aren’t all sweetmeats and sunshine, either.
By necessity, I explore. Even here (in non fiction) I explore. I ask: What does it mean to be a writer? What are the characteristics of The Writing Life? I dig, and you dig and we dig. Writers dig dig dig for meaning all the bloody time. We have a fine nose for smelling out the finer details of human experience.
Investigation = super smelling power!
3. The Power of the Discernment! aka. The Power of the ‘Bon Mot’
‘Bon Mot’ taken at its most literal is French for ‘good word’ (more colloquially, it means words that are clever or witty)–and writers can spot a ‘bon mot/good word’ with nary a twitch of the eyebrow. (Spot it, grab it and devour it!).
Consider, if you will: there are gazillions of words out there and many of them are basic, useful and necessary. They are the bricks and mortar we use to build the text. We must choose carefully, however, because this is the foundation. It must be strong and sturdy. So: we must choose ‘good words’. Choose strong, sturdy, concrete words.
Then, consider this! We want to make it unique, add some flash. Think of those flashy words as diamonds, jewels, gems. Again, we must choose wisely: too much flash and we will distract our reader, too little flash and we will bore them…but just enough flash…ah, that’s it! Perfect! Our words glow like a laser conduit, and our intended meaning will punch our reader right in the mind/heart! *kerpow*
That is the power of the ‘bon mot’.
Beginner writers have to work at this. They must practise the power of discernment, choosing words and keeping them or tossing them away. Experienced writers are more adept. It becomes more intuitive; from the gut. We can (usually) pick the pearl from the peas…or alternatively, the pea among pearls. Then we will go prowling like panther for a better replacement.
Viva le bon mot!