Writing from Your Source: Fiction Workshop


The Writing from Your Source Philosophy

So what is "writing from your source?"

Very simply, it's a way to strip away the baggage we all carry around and get down to the heart of your creativity. It's a meditative approach that helps you let go of worry, fear, and doubt, and lets you truly explore the stories you want to tell, with confidence that what you have inside can and will come out. Once you let go, you'll be amazed at how the words flow.

The keys to successful storytelling are confidence and trust in yourself. You have to believe you know what makes a good story and you have to trust that the directions you pursue will get you there. You've got to have confidence in your ability to craft your story, and trust your gut in making the best choices for that story. Lots of people will tell you what they think will make your story work, and they may have good ideas. But the only ideas that really matter are the ones that resonate with you.

Now this doesn't mean that if you've never written a story before, you'll produce a Nobel-prize-winning novel on your first draft. It does mean that if you write with confidence and trust yourself, the more you write, the better you'll get at figuring out what works for you. The better you'll get at taking chances that pay off. Eventually, you'll find your authentic voice, and you'll say exactly what you want to say, the way you want to say it.

Let me explain a little about how I got to this point; it may further clarify what Writing from Your Source is all about.

Writing from Your Source as an approach came to me after years of doing what many writers do: seeking external validation of my ideas and skill. I asked people to read my stories and tell me what worked and what didn't. I enlisted the help of publishing professionals (talented authors and editors) who gave me loads of good advice. I would take all that feedback and make changes to my stories, sometimes going against my intuition in favor of, what seemed to be, solid points that would address the "problems" with my story.

But the more feedback I got, the more I realized that everyone had a different idea of what "good" was. Among the publishing professionals, in many cases, what one person loved, another hated. An editor might suggest a certain idea or element that had to be included in the story, so I'd make the change to the editor's satisfaction. But then a published author would read the new version and say that the editor's idea (of course not knowing the idea came from another publishing professional) didn't work at all and cut the whole thing. It finally dawned on me that if I made all the changes people wanted, the novel would make no sense at all.

That's when I started to understand that I had to trust myself to make the best choices for my novel. As flawed as my early drafts were (having the trust and confidence to know when something doesn't work is equally important), they still had a lot of elements that I loved but had edited out. I took out much of what made the story such a fun read for me. I removed a lot of the passion that came directly from my heart. Yes, maybe it could be a little over the top at times, but my character was a little over the top when it came to his emotions.

And that's when I decided I would write my novel for me. Not for family, friends, teachers, colleagues, editors, agents, or publishers. For me. I know it might sound a bit cliché: write for yourself. But it's true. And I know once I made that leap, I produced more authentic work that will resonate with many, many more people than the work I wrote to try to please others.

So here I am with Writing from Your Source. I want to help others find this place of trust and confidence. When you get here, you experience so much more joy in the writing process—even when you're producing what might look like total crap, because you know it's part of the process of getting to your authentic story. It may take time, but you know you're getting there with every word you write.

In my workshops, I use a quote from The Inner Game of Tennis that speaks to this idea of letting things be as they are and not judging:

When we plant a rose seed in the earth, we notice that it is small, but we do not criticize it as "rootless and stemless." We treat it as a seed, giving it the water and nourishment required of a seed. When it first shoots up out of the earth, we don't condemn it as immature and underdeveloped; nor do we criticize the buds for not being open when they appear. We stand in wonder at the process taking place and give the plant the care it needs at each stage of its development. The rose is a rose from the time it is a seed until the time it dies. Within it, at all times, it contains its whole potential. It seems to be constantly in the process of change; yet at each moment, it is perfectly all right as it is.

I can't think of a better way to view the process of storytelling.

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© 2009-16 T. Formaro