Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Magic of the Open Road: In Creativity & Life

In the following exchange with another writer in a screenwriting group on Facebook, I spell out why I believe that control is anathema to the creative process -- in both writing and life. 

It's ironic that my Facebook colleague uses the "unmapped drive" example to criticize what he terms the wastefulness of unplanned writing. Going for a random, unplanned drive is the same example I have long used in my workshops and coaching sessions to celebrate the magic of discovery. It's also the basis for what I call "writing on the Muse Stream," which I explore in The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write.

Other Writer: The problem I think a lot of screenwriters have is not being able to nail down exactly what your ending is before starting. That would be like getting in the car for a weekend getaway and not having any idea where it is you're going... just driving... aimlessly, wasting a whole hell of a lot of gas. This is where the idea of mapping comes in... if you know where you're going, you'll get there, and usually in the most direct line.

MDG: I'm glad you used the analogy of going for a drive without a fixed destination in mind, because that's precisely how I like to go for drives. It's much more fun to get in the car, start it up and see where it will take me. Nearly always, it takes me to a place I never could have imagined going, along a route I never would have thought of taking.

As it turns out, it's also how I write and live my life. It can be scary sometimes. It can certainly feel out of control. But those are the places where magic resides and miracles thrive. And what's life and creativity if not a magical, miraculous journey of wonder and surprise?

To go back to your "out for a drive" analogy: When I write, I sit in the passenger seat of the experience; the story is in the driver's seat. The story is in the driver's seat because it's its own entity, if you will, one that knows its direction and imperative far better than I ever could. And if I let it take charge, it will introduce me to characters and situations my controlling mind would never have thought up.

As for my life, if I had set a fixed destination and mapped out the journey, I would never have written two award-winning books and three optioned screenplays (in fact, it's unlikely I ever would have been a writer), I probably would not be living in the U.S. (I'm Canadian), and I doubt that I would be a parent...just to name three pretty amazing life-altering experiences.

Just like the greatest bulk of an iceberg, my deepest desires and greatest stories often lie largely hidden in the ocean of my unconscious mind. The only way I know to access them is through those leaps of faith that keep my controlling mind out of the process.

In the end, my directions in writing and life are neither aimless nor energy-wasting. They're simply guided by a wiser part of myself that knows the destination and the way to reach it better than the limits of my conscious mind, as powerful and wonderful as it is, ever could. That's my GPS.

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• The Voice of the Muse book
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• The MoonQuest book
• Mark David Gerson

Photo credits: Car, Hub Garage; iceberg, Results Driven Business Coaching


Richard Crookes said...

great piece Mark David - long may you explore the open road

RobertaMRoy said...

Glad your drive brought you by for a visit:)