Hearken, ye. Herein dwells the frustrated rant of a writer.
I think I’m reaching a critical impatience point with certain types questions some writers ask. Or I’m getting old and crotchety and not jiving with how newbies work their creativity.
Social media is exceedingly useful for writers. There’s endless advice and interplay of ideas and support. But it is not a crutch. It shouldn’t be. Stop asking me to come up with ideas, or names or perspectives to use within the story you are writing. This is not about group writing exercises. This is about the increasing number of people asking others to do the imagining for them for their own stories. STOP IT.
If your epic novel features the health conditions of aliens, or you are inventing weird planetary geography or making up titles for children’s programs….as a writer, YOUR JOB IS TO INVENT ALL OF THIS.
Immediately stop asking the rest of us (I mean everyone in your/our particular online writing group) to do the inventing for you, because we will and often do. It will be easy, and fun. But most of all it will absolutely kill your unique vision for your story stone cold dead in its tracks before it even gets a chance to make a life of its own out in the world as a proper and complete artefact you made.
If you run dry for ideas, do something. I mean walk, steal from Shakespeare, clean, look stuff, up, rewrite a fairy tale, meditate, dream, look at pictures, read, or forget the idea and move on. Do, at all costs, nurture your unique imagination. Exercise it like a muscle, just don’t expect me to run creative laps for your story so you can win the publication race.
Or ask us for advice on where to find information or inspiration…but if you crowd source the actual bits of the world for your story, as written in the comments section, in one long conversation, it ceases to be your story. It will be our story.
I’ll write this again more poetically because this is important:
Whatever seed grew in the garden of your mind for a story will be in danger of being choked by the strangling weeds of our collective imagining if you ask us to help you like this.
So, have an idea, write it down. Do the research you feel you need to do to make this story real. This doesn’t including examining everyone or a subsection of your writing group. If you really don’t understand the perspective of an alien being or a different gender, I’m fairly confident no ad hoc social media survey will help you. Accept your limitations and perhaps, write something else.
Of course, if you have written your alien health/weird geography/invented kid’s TV story and want feedback after your inventing. Sure. I’m here. That’s fine, because you have done the work. But not before.
But I/we are here when you, fellow writer, are in need of solace, celebration, or advice on expression, or grammar, or genre issues, technical support, generalised writing issues, or publishing stuff, or any of a zillion questions. Ask away. Just stop expecting us to do the secondary world building for you. That’s your gig. And mine, and everyone else who calls themselves writers.
Rant over. As you were people.