Message from the President
June 2022 RWR
“Satisfaction of one's curiosity is one of the greatest sources of happiness in life.” -Linus Pauling, American chemist, Nobel Prize winner
We’ve all been there: that moment when writing our stories begins to feel like work. Between the deadlines, promotions, website updates, etc., all of a sudden you look up and wonder where the joy went. I know that was one of my worries when I moved from writing as a hobby to writing as a job. I am here to assure you this does not have to be a permanent state. If it were, we would not have those writers we all look up to who have put out more than fifty books.
Writers, like all artists, are creative by nature. We look at the world as a scientist looks at a microorganism in a scope. We are constantly asking questions about the world around us. We look for meaning in mundane things. Writers want to know, “What would happen if?” Curiosity is like a drug to a writer. Once we engage it, we will happily follow our mind down a rabbit hole. This is why most writers do not want their close family (or the NSA) to see their computer’s browser history.
It is when we stop indulging in the what ifs that we lose the spark. We get caught up in properly stacking promos, making sure our black moment sits right at page 275, or just turning out the next book. If this ever happens to you, ask yourself, what have you done for your curiosity lately? Have you gone into a coffee shop and just people watched? Have you taken that outrageous plot idea and journaled about it for thirty minutes? Take a hot minute and get back to your roots. Think about your why. Why do you love writing? What makes you want to sit down and write? What surprises you about the world around you? Why does that surprise you?
Another thing you can do, if you are feeling like your creativity has taken a vacation, is to change things up. Something as silly as brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand has been proven to increase brain-wave activity and make you think more creatively. After having to do this for a couple of months after I broke my arm, I can attest to this. I may have had a new series idea in an entirely new genre while I was recuperating.
Athletes must train and then recuperate in order to be at the top of their game, and writers must allow themselves time to just be in their thoughts with no deadlines, page counts, or sales numbers. It is the eternal questions about human nature that drive our stories and make readers want to read them. Our work is important because it allows readers to experience human emotions and situations and observe how a given character will react and find a solution. Reading makes us more empathetic and compassionate humans, because good fiction takes us out of our comfort zones and forces us to consider different ways of thinking and different life experiences. It is because of this that our work is so important to the world. Therefore, we must keep our own curiosity alive and well and keep asking, what if?
My challenge for you in June is simple. I would like you to do two things: First, choose a book from a different genre, new author, or with a premise that is not in your comfort zone and commit to reading it cover to cover this month. By looking at works that are vastly different from our own, it forces us to do what our readers do when they read our stories. You will experience the activity of reading from a new perspective, which should make you begin to ask those questions that will spark ideas for your own work. And second, take an afternoon or a morning and just go out and look at your world. I mean really look at it. Summer is a perfect time because the landscape is forever changing with new blooms, foliage, baby wild animals, and different bugs. Just start asking questions with no need for an answer right now. I would also suggest brushing with the other hand for one week and see if it sparks any ideas you weren’t expecting.
The best thing about the writing community is our curiosity about the world. It creates an energy that you can feel when you are in a room of writers. It is an energy that will be palpable at RWA2022 in July, which I can’t wait for.
Just remember, it is our job to be curious, and we cannot do our job if we curtail that in favor of productivity.