Posted in Courses, Creative Writing

Dean Wesley Smith on How to be Original

Recently, I’ve found a set of YouTube videos by Dean Wesley Smith from an online course he does on How to be Original.

I’ve listened to and watched up to week 5.  It looks like a great course and one that would challenge the writer’s mindset because the purpose of the course is to set your creative mind free and develop your own take on writing stories.

He talks a lot about how to write from the creative brain, which he indicates comes from the back of the head.  Then he talks about how we often write from the front of our heads, which is where the critical mind or internal editor sits, furiously reviewing our work and slashing it to pieces.

I think it is so easy to get caught up in editing and polishing a work in progress before the actual birth of creativity has taken place, and watching these videos by Dean Wesley Smith have cemented that idea in my mind for me.

His course gives you permission to “let your inner two year old out to play” and from personal experience of both being an internal prisoner to my critical mind and a free spirit of my creative mind, permission to be who we are and do what we love most is vital for creative success.

I think I’ll investigate taking some of Dean Wesley Smith’s courses on writing in the future.  He’s been a pulp fiction writer for almost as long as I’ve been alive.  He writes all the time, has written Star Trek and hundreds of other stories that may or may not have his name on the front, because he also does ghost writing when publishers need a work finished by a deadline and the original author is unable to meet the date.

He’s a great teacher because he’s honest about the process of writing and making art on the page.  One of the things I found particularly freeing is his comment that “there’s no right way to write a novel.”  Knowing that is so important because beginning writers search like crazy for the secret to writing a novel.  There are methods and structures and plots that have all been done before which create the foundation of learning to write stories, but in the end, once the writer has assimilated that information and it has become a part of who they are, they are then free to let that stuff come out as a part of the process of writing the novel without fear of doing something wrong.

What I found freeing and fascinating about one of Dean’s video lectures was that he talks about the way he outlines a book.  He writes the chapter and then outlines backwards.  He jots down what happened and keeps it in a file for quick reference.  I was so excited because that’s my preferred method of outlining.

He says (and I’m paraphrasing) that “outlining comes from the critical part of the brain which doesn’t allow for original voice.”   This struck a cord with me because when I try to outline and be serious, I get stuck in an anxious feedback loop of critical thought and have been unable to complete the outline.  But when I watch and listen to my characters and write down what they are doing and saying, then jot down the outline afterwards, it works for me.  My writing is creative and I have a lot of fun while still creating a structured story and keeping track of all the threads that make up a novel.

So, if you haven’t heard of Dean Wesley Smith, check out his YouTube channel or you can find a link to his website on my Writer’s Resources page.

Enjoy being original and having fun with your creative expression.

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