After earning an MFA in creative nonfiction, I’ve started writing a sci-fi story, which is a whole different experience. Instead of rooting through my past, unearthing painful moments I buried long ago, I activate my imagination, watch the movie playing in my mind, and try to get it down on paper.
Sometimes the movie goes off-script. It feels like the scene playing doesn’t jive with what’s come before, so when this happens, I skip back to the last scene and let it play from there.
I don’t know if all fiction writing works this way, but it’s super-fun because even though I’m the author of this story, I don’t even know the name of my main character or even quite what he is, because my mind-movie hasn’t gotten to that scene yet. Whereas with nonfiction, I return to the writing because I have a driving question I want to answer, with fiction writing, I sit my ass In the chair because I want to discover what happens next.
I feared my writing would languish without the accountability of the MFA program, and to some extent, it has, yet trying a new genre rejuvenated the practice as did getting published and returning to a biweekly writer’s group. As adding a social component encouraged my enjoyment of running, meeting with fellow writers unlocked a heretofore hidden chamber in the well of creative expression that is word smithing. In other words, hanging out with other writers helps me like writing more.
If you have ideas of what encourages your creative expression, or if you have something to share about writing fiction, please post it in the comments.