As a writer, I know that every project leads me through a virtual labyrinth which I must resolve to reach my destination. I’ll know the destination when I see it. I have a concept of it in my mind. In the longer works, such as a novel, I even have a road map (also known as an outline) to help me find my way. However, there’s one factor that’s key to making it through the labyrinth, maybe the most important of all. I have to trust the inner storyteller who is leading me from station to station, armed with ideas and inspiration.
The Inner Guide
I fully believe there lies within the creator of art, no matter the discipline, some awareness of the final product which the creator strives to produce. It isn’t just the final product. We usually have a goal for a project and can imagine how it will be when the finish line is reached. It’s as though one’s intuition can be tapped and if followed will bring the artist through the necessary changes to the satisfactory conclusion. This inner guide knows the key points that need to be touched in order for the work to unfold as it should for maximum effect.
Maybe there’s a deep sense of the finished product from the beginning, but I tend to believe that, like a puzzle, the pieces have to be discovered one at a time. Without the framework in place, the details of the interior are more or less guesswork. I don’t see this as a hard and fast rule. Works of art can come about in a variety of ways, but I would say we usually work our way through them with a progression of ideas coming to the surface that flesh out and develop our creation. The point is this. There’s the inner tactician putting this all together along the way on a subconscious level, probably even working when we’re sleeping.
Art in Action
Television artist and instructor Bob Ross said something to the effect that he never knew exactly how a painting started at the outset of his broadcast would turn out. He said he had a general idea and what colors he would use, but he didn’t work out all the steps from A to Z. This was evident when he would say–and I paraphrase–“How about if we put a tree right here?” It was an idea that popped into his head as part of the process. Typical, right? It’s just a basic example of our creative process.
It goes deeper than that, though. Bringing the project home requires this willingness to go with the flow. If we have it all taped out before we start and we stick to the plan with no allowance for diversions down different passageways of the labyrinth, we deny our art a certain richness. We deny it life and vitality. In my stories, I’m surprised at times when following the route of my outline, I write something that shines a light on a new aspect of the tale. It may open the way for new understanding of a character or it could bring the plot more depth.
That small element, be it a phrase or sentence or paragraph, was written with one purpose in mind, but it couldn’t have been more effective for introducing a whole new dimension to the story if it had been intentionally done in the full light of consciousness. I’m convinced that another level of consciousness was at work that brought me to the stage where the element mentioned above was perfectly placed to import the new phase of the story from a reservoir of ideas usually below my awareness.
Writing fiction is how I came to realize this phenomena. I want to emphasize, though, that I’m quite sure it applies to all kinds of writing and all kinds of art. In creating a dance routine, the choreographer will lay out how it may go and in the process be struck with a new step that will dazzle. A composer may come up with a brilliant melody and in so doing write a sequence that almost magically leads to a counter to the melody that fairly takes the breath away.
My Giveaway Takeaway
We may view this part of ourselves that lives above the sleep horizon, that walks and talks and eats, as the sole proprietor of our persona of artiste. Maybe it’s true, but still we don’t have much of a clue as to the depth of our own minds. We should accept that we’re getting help from subliminal forces which are in league with our highest aspirations. Sometimes, perhaps, we’re more proficient when we allow all parts of our minds and being a role in finding our way home.