Cristina Yang: “It’s a friggin’ miracle, okay? You’re standing before a miracle and once you realize that, she’ll change your perspective. Okay, here’s what I do. I look at an item on my list and I look at heart in a box and if that surgery on my list isn’t half as cool as heart in the box then it is not worth my time. She lets you know what’s most important to you. That’s what heart in a box does. And she’s nice to talk to.” (Grey’s Anatomy, 8×08, ‘Heart-Shaped Box’)
Lately I’ve found myself not writing creatively, unlike last month, and I feel like it shouldn’t be letting it slide. Especially since I have time right now before I continue with graduate school, this Fall semester. Some times I wait for a story idea, or inspiration, to come to me and other times I let prompts push me to certain ideas. Each one of us has a good idea of what works for them. They might know that pushing themselves to write something might not get good results. Others might give a prompt a chance to see where the words flow. I like perusing both, because I’m hopeful that something might come it, even if it’s not the best that I could do. Something written is always better than nothing at all. This is something that I have to remind myself all the time.
There was something about this scene in Grey’s Anatomy that made me ponder a bit. In the episode, Cristina Yang uses “the heart in a box” to help her decide what surgeries she would like to do. While Jackson Avery, finds that it helps him decide about his relationship and his career. I feel that this scene works for writers as well. We all have moments where we feel like there isn’t anything new to write about, or we’re trying to decide what’s worth writing about. How do we decide which direction to go in story, even when the characters don’t know what they want to do? So write a list of possible ideas, and compare it to “the heart in a box” or maybe your favorite story/series. Just make sure you focus on what you want to do, and not go down the road of comparing your writing to others. Everyone will bring something new to their work, because of what experiences we’ve had and who we are. If we let ourselves believe that we can never be as good as others, than we’re giving ourselves a disservice. If you focus, you can write something great, or something you can work with, like a skeleton that you work to add flesh to make it whole. It might not even be pursuing a new idea, but going back to one you’ve had that you haven’t completed or revised yet.
It shouldn’t be hard to go back to a previous piece, and see what needs to be worked on. You will likely already have a beginning, middle, and end. If not, complete that aspect first. I’ve realized last month that I kind of have a fear of revision. It seems silly when you think about it. What could be scary about changing the outcome of the story, or a poem? It feels daunting to look at someone’s edits, or many edits from others, and try to see what would work best. I found when I’m forced with a deadline, it gives me a chance to not be as emotional about it. You’re able to cut parts, make changes to those simple grammar mistakes, and then focus on what areas need improvement. Remember that not everything “sucked,” but that certain areas need a special touch. It can also feel frustrating when you’re told of things you already know need work. It should be reassuring because your instincts were right, but you feel like if you knew ahead of time, why couldn’t you have fixed it earlier. You have to remember that when you’re writing, especially on a deadline, you might not notice right away an aspect of the piece. Almost like a math problem, you work through it and you’re tempted to move on right away when you get an answer, but you shouldn’t. You have to go back, and look through to see what you might have missed. Suddenly you realize that you know how to get to your destination, you just have to double check your work to get there.
At the end, all that matters is that we sit down, focus on writing and try our best. It’s the only way we can make progress.