Writer/Director Kevin Smith left a long… rant? Let’s call it a speech–on Twitter about being what you want to be, rather than wanting to be it. He talked about spending time–years in many cases–believing in yourself and pushing until you reach your goals.
He makes a good point. There was a study in creativity not too long ago (Google won’t turn up the actual study) that asked people to exercise their creativity. Many folks who had boring jobs and didn’t think much of their own creativity scored quite low. Not a surprise, right?
But then the people giving the study asked them to answer the questions as though they were someone else. Someone creative, like a sculptor or other artist.
Once instructed to respond the way a creative person would, they began to give very creative answers. It wasn’t a lack of creativity, it was that they didn’t think of themselves as creative people, and so didn’t try hard to think creatively.
And this is true of many aspects of writing. One of the tricks I use all the time when I’m stuck is to ask myself “How would a professional writer fix this sentence?” (I know, don’t tell me, I know). Or “What would a best-selling/award-winning author have these characters do?”
You can substitute the name of an author you already admire, it can be some sort of platonic ideal, or you can picture yourself in some advanced, evolved state. I usually choose option 3. The fact is, this trick really helps. It opens me up to solutions that weren’t accessible before, because I was all wrapped up in who I think I am and what I think I’m capable of.
So, go Kevin Smith.