BEING A WRITER IS HARD work (listen to three authors, Rachael Johns, Lisa Ireland & Sally Hepworth tell you all about it here) and one of the hardest parts of being a writer is learning when to listen to which part of your brain. Sometimes it feels like there are dozens of voices in your head, giving you conflicting advice and making it impossible to move forward. Is it any wonder you get writers’ block?
Here at Writer on the Road, we’ve separate the writing journey into stages, each guided by a different voice inside your head. Each of these voices is essential to your writing journey, and your job as a creative is to keep them safe and happy – to offer motivational speeches and lots of love. Sometimes one of your voices might seem to take over. That’s okay. They have different functions at different times. Through these guidelines, we want to give you the tools you need to get your voices under control, and optimise your creative process. All of your voices are necessary to help you make your project the best it can be.
To be a writer, you need to write. So far, so obvious. And to write, you need to be in touch with your motivation. That’s where The Dreamer comes in. You’ve got a purpose in this writing journey, and the Dreamer’s here to help you articulate it so you can charge on with passion and self-knowledge.
The Inspirer is the harbinger of your ideas and the igniter of your creative energy. When you’re staring at your computer screen, watching the blinking cursor and the blank page, he’s the voice you call on. In the world of the Inspirer, chaos reigns. Impulse is what’s important, and anything goes. Call on this voice when you need to see the world with fresh eyes; when a flickering street lamp stirs an idea deep inside you; when it’s time for Mad Hatter’s tea parties and parachuting out of trees and digging holes that lead to anywhere and nowhere… Okay, so you’ve opened your eyes. Now what? First of all, try not to shudder at the food on the walls. And don’t even ask how that annoying neighbour character ended up on the roof. Don’t worry, we’re about to start organising – sort of.
Welcome to the process of creating The First Draft. To write, you need ideas, inspiration, restraint – but you also need simple craft. Your Practitioner loves the nuts and bolts of writing. She is the voice you turn to when you need to learn a new structural device, or a strategy for creating a relationship between your characters. None of us are perfect writers. There’s no such thing. But your Practitioner sure wants to try. She loves new techniques, new titbits about the craft – and she isn’t afraid to ask for help.
When writing your first draft, you need to use your creative imagination – allowing your ideas to flow freely, focusing on expansion and excitement. But sooner or later, you have to start saying no to ideas and narrowing your focus. Your Control Freak is your internal editor, and it’s his time to shine.
The Finisher has one very important job, one that consists of typing only two words: The End. As a creative, it may seem like your work is never complete, and to an extent that’s true – there is always room to improve. The Control Freak in particular tends to like revising over and over, fiddling with words until your ideas are phrases just right. But sometimes you need to learn how to let go and move on. Your Finisher is in charge of deciding when to let your work go, to type those magical words and go on to the next stage of the process.
Not all your voices have to come from deep inside you. It’s easy, in the midst of the solitary independence that is the writing life, to become caught up in your own head and forget to engage with the world around you. But when the going gets tough, the tough turn to their friends and mentors for support. Who’s in your support crew on this writing journey? Who are your Cheerleaders?
Then, there’s your accountability buddy. We call her your Facilitator. She’s here to smooth out your process and provide the support you need. She doesn’t want to take over your creative journey, but she does want to make sure you meet deadlines and get things done.
Once your voices have helped you produce a brilliant final draft, The Producer takes over. He’s in charge of turning an ethereal draft into a concrete finished product. Your Producer dreams of red editing pens, cover designs, font changes, and paper quality. He’s ready to get your book out there and reach an audience. Once upon a time, gatekeepers ruled the writing world. To get published, you needed to go through an agent and a publisher and a design team and a bookseller… I get hives just thinking about it. We can still do that, of course, but the power’s in your hands now. Your Producer is here for the final steps as you find your audience.
What’s next? Your Entrepreneur looks to the future. She knows that one book is never enough to purge you of the stories you have inside, and is ready to find creative and innovative ways to turn your passion into a full-on writing life. Sure, she cares about money, but the Entrepreneur may be the most important voice of all – her strength will give you the confidence and tools to live the creative life while constantly reaching new audiences with your words.
We hope you realise that voices in your head are your friends. When they’re all shouting at once, you might feel like they’re out of your control. But ultimately, these voices are part of you, and they truly want you to succeed in the end. Let them have their discussions. Let them fight and throw food and kill characters off (you can always resurrect them). In the end, the inner recesses of your brain will always be there to welcome you home.
One story leads to the next… No line is ever ended… Your imagination is calling to you.
You can find out more about The Voices In Your Head Story Writing Program here. While you’re there you can get a free copy of The Guidelines by signing up for our newsletter.