Pivot If Necessary
Writing involves the mind, heart, spirit and a dose of the unknowable – that element which is not quantifiable, nor tangible, but is nonetheless present. Call it grace, call it magic, or you can call it Benny. Whatever you choose to call it isn’t as important as knowing that it exists and can help you manifest your dreams.
When you begin a writing project, you typically have some idea of what you are trying to capture in print. While you may not have the entire concept worked out, you’ve got a good idea of how you should begin, some loose ideas of what the middle, meaty parts will be, and how you plan to wrap the whole thing up. Sometimes, as you’re working, new ideas about the direction to take your writing may suddenly pop into your head. You may tell yourself, “No, that’s not where this is going,” but my advice is that you allow yourself to be open to these quiet whispers. By the same token, if, as you’re writing, the work seems labored and unfulfilling and you have never experienced moments when you've shifted into Flow or felt joyful and inspired, you might want to reconsider whether you are writing the story that you should be telling.
When I started my first book, it was about a young boy living in a gang-filled environment and the struggles that he encountered trying to not let that world suck him in. I always planned for it to have a happy ending – he would get out and end up triumphant – but first I had to capture the struggles that he endured. While flushing out the main character and trying to mentally place myself inside his head and his life, I found that the story’s dark subject matter kept me mildly depressed. Finally, I decided that that story was not the one for me to write, so I pivoted and wrote a book about Black Girl Magic instead.
Don’t be afraid to begin again if you discover that the path you are heading down is the wrong one. Trust your intuition and know that to let go of something that isn’t working does not mean that you have failed. Rather, it simply means that you’re creating time and space for something that will allow you to tap into that unknowable realm, the place where real magic happens. I know when I experience those moments because I first feel it viscerally in my gut, which, in those moments, seem weirdly wired to my tear ducts; Shonda Rhimes describes it as a ‘hum’. However it makes itself known to you, trust it and allow yourself to be guided.