Reason #1: Creating New Worlds
Yes, it's daunting, but creating an entire world from scratch is so satisfying. I find the deeper I go into my fictional universes, the more real I make them feel, the more and more rewarding it gets. My particular favorites are:
- Creating landscapes I wish I could really visit. Like the little town The Victor's Blade starts in, Sinoa? Man, I'd love to be able to go to Sinoa. They have wild unicorns! And flowers everywhere!
- Making cultures with interesting traditions. I had a really fun time working on the citystates' cultures for my future project, "Elemental" (working title). Each city had to have a very different feel since they were each based on a different natural element. The fun thing about these particular cultures were that they all wanted to avoid their native element--for example, the light-based citystate operates in almost total darkness!
- Inventing holidays and festivals. Another reason why I wish I could visit a real-life Sinoa. Between the feasting, dancing, games, and storytelling, they sure know how to party.
- Crafting myths and legends. I've always been a huge mythology-buff, so being able to make up my own myths is just too much fun.
- Forming new languages! Yes, I really have made an entirely new language for The Victor's Blade. And I'm hoping someday to even be able to speak it fluently. Am I insane? Yes, I am.
Reason #2: Controlling the Story
We've all been let down by stories before, sometimes even by stories we loved. We hated the way that TV show slowed to a crawl when they introduced that arc. We wept when they married the protagonist off to that jerk we hated since two minutes into the movie. We screamed at our book when the writer had the audacity to kill off our favorite character for no reason.
"They did WHAT?! BUT IT'S THE SERIES FINALE!"
The great thing about writing is that you have control over the story.
If I like two characters together and want them to pair up, it's as good as done. I don't have to sit on the couch every week hoping and praying these two will see they're meant for each other.
If I'm getting tired of this jungle setting, I can switch it up. Suddenly, everyone's shipped out to an exotic island. Now if only I could whisk myself there, too.
And that hilarious side-character that never gets enough love? I can devote a whole chapter to him. Heck, I can get him a girlfriend and a key position in the plot while I'm at it.
The best part about this is having control over the story's ending. Let me tell you, if I was writing all those short stories I had to read in high school, there'd be way fewer nights I spent under a dark cloud of depression.
As a writer, I get to make sure the ending is sensible, satisfying, and just plain awesome. No more screaming at the TV because the movie I loved for two and a half hours pulled a plot twist I hated. No more closing the book shut and thinking, "Wow, that's where they decided to end it? Isn't there more? Epilogue? Sequel? Something with a semblance of closure?"
Do you prefer tear-jerkers or happy endings? As a writer, you get to decide how your tale ends.
Reason #3: When the Story Controls You
Okay, so I lied. As a writer, you don't have complete control over the story. Because sometimes, the story will grab the wheel right out of your hand, and you have no choice but to hang on for dear life and enjoy the ride.
I wish I could remember which author I first read who introduced this idea to me. Perhaps Anne Lamott? She seems like the sort to write about a little writer inside taking control of the story without your consent. I'll let you know if I find the exact quote. For now, suffice it to say that the idea is NOT original to me. But I've experienced the sensation plenty of times to recognize it.
Sometimes while I'm writing the story will take off in a direction I had not planned beforehand. And I'll have fun and play along. Or sometimes I will have a plan, but the story will have other ideas. Suddenly, the story's romping down the left path when my outline specifically says it's supposed to go to the right. But the story doesn't care. It just goes on and I have no choice but to follow it. And more often than not, it'll be better than the right path anyway.
Characters do this, too. I'll plan them one way, but as soon as they're dropped into the world, they'll take on a life of their own. Zaelor is the most recent example. Initially starting out as a stern and just in general grumpy character, I put him in a tavern and all of a sudden he's decided he wants to be a spy with a bit of a morbid sense of humor.
I always find it fascinating when the story starts taking on a life of its own. It not only surprises me by taking me off the path I beat out (since I'm an over-planner, after all), it also is often far more entertaining than anything I initially planned for.
All right, story. You win this one.
Reason #4: When One Plot Line Solves Another Plot's Hole
I've written about this before, but self-solving problems are the best problems in life. Sometimes, I'll be in the middle of planning a certain aspect of the book which will take me down the usual bunny trail of thoughts. But the best part is when that trail actually leads right to the solution of a problem I've had with a seemingly unrelated problem in the story.
And then Handel's Messiah starts to play.
Reverse Butterfly Effect for the win.
Reason #5: Pure, Simple Catharsis
Writers love to talk about how they have to write. It's as if it's right up there with the other necessities such as breathing and sleeping. The general consensus among writers at a glance seems like "If I don't/didn't/couldn't write, I'd die!"
I can't speak for everyone else, but one of the reasons I share that feeling is because writing is so cathartic for me.
Writing allows me to express feelings I'd otherwise ignore, stuff deep inside me, or agonize over... and over... and over again. But if I write about it, it frees me to experience those emotions in a way that's safe, a way that has a start and end. It helps me establish healthy boundaries. And it helps me get rid of negative emotions I've been carrying for way too long. For some reason, if I've been having a really bad day and just feel awful, writing about it helps take the pressure off. It gives me room to breathe again.
Want to know another five things I love about being a writer?
I knew you would.
Oh, you don't? Well, since you're feeling so cynical, how about five things I hate about being a writer?
Photos (in order of appearance):
- By Shontz Photography. Originally posted on Unsplash.com.
- By Tania Van den Berghen. Originally posted on Pixabay.com.
- By Gerd Altmann. Originally posted on Pixabay.com.
- By Ales Krivec. Originally posted on Unsplash.com.
- By Jill Wellington. Originally posted on Pixabay.com.
From Him, To Him