From January 18, 2011
There's nothing I love more than a good epiphany. As I writer, I've actually acquired an unhealthy dependency on them that I nurture whenever possible. No, really.
I've recently discovered the website Stumbleupon.com. If you've never been, I warn you, it will consume your life and your soul. The other night I spent two whole hours there. I didn't even get up to go to the bathroom. But the site is not without its victories. That night I was made aware of an awesome band out of the UK called Mumford & Sons and I've been jamming to them ever since. Today I was on the site and came across a blog by Don Miller, who, like Elizabeth Gilbert, has changed my conventions on writing. Miller is a writer and he keeps a very updated blog about writing and the creative process (my conception of heaven). So I'm bouncing around some of his older posts and I come upon one that smacks me in the face like I owed it money (or something). The title was simply "What if?" Miller talks about how a creative writer simply has to ask his or her self "What if?" to get a story going. (There's my epiphany). So simple...so direct and clear. Of course this is exactly what I've been doing for the last decade, but I've never conceptualized it like this before. If I get stuck in a storyline, I just ask myself "What if?" about the situation and millions of different scenarios are at my fingertips (the new problem, of course, is choosing which one).
This revelation of sorts actually brings me to an example of this concept that I used no less than two hours ago. Anyone who's known me for more than five minutes knows that I like to cook. I guess it's a way for me to be creative and eat the fruits of my labor (I can have my cake and eat it too, literally). So...I'm on the phone with Mom and I'm making Banana Bread, because let's face it, that's just the sort of thing I do on a normal basis. My original intention was to make over-sized muffins to take to work for breakfast because they're just more convenient than the bread form. But as I'm digging through my baking pans, I stumble upon (haha, get it? Stumble upon) my 8" brownie pan. "Mom, what if I make the Banana Bread in this pan instead?" She said go for it and it would turn out more like a coffee cake. I'm down with that idea, so I threw it in the oven. To my surprise, the Banana Bread cooked in half the time! How convenient for someone who likes to cook, but lacks the time and attentive capacity to see it through! I just ate a piece too, but that's more for bragging purposes.
I truly feel that this insanely simple concept will help me to develop not just more writing, but better writing. There's a lack of constriction here. Now I'm geeked to apply this process to my writing.
Check out Don Miller's blog, Stumbleupon.com, Mumford & Sons, and, if you haven't already, Elizabeth Gilbert's lecture on creative genius (it's at the bottom of this page).
GMG, born again what-if-er