Writers are haunted creatures.
Everyone is a writer, of course. You invent stories every day. Your flights of fancy, your daydreams, your alternate scenarios, your fears.
But if you make things up explicitly, all the time, it changes you. You exist in the eye of a hurricane. Everything around is in flux.
How do you get your ideas?
That’s the classic question. The corresponding answer is usually something like “they just come to me”, but it’s a half-truth. We all know that, deep down. The reality is more prosaic: your outlook alters, such that everything is an idea. In the same way that a former spy can never fully switch off their vigilance, a writer’s imagination just becomes perpetually active.
Reading is what makes it possible – you have to read in order to be able to write – but you have to write to actually activate this shift in perspective. It happens fast: within days. The problem isn’t ever finding ideas; it’s filtering them.
When I listen to music, it’s a soundtrack to a scene – or usually ten different scenes. People I meet or see are characters. Places are settings. Idle points of interest are window-dressing, for added colour. Anecdotes from others become my own memories, in a dozen permutations.
Once it starts happening, you can’t stop it.
Writers aren’t figurative deities, playing with their characters’ lives; we’re more like avid spectators, powerless to look away.
He wouldn’t thank me for it, but there are so many ways in which this description of change in mindset is helpful in thinking about the ways in which this reflects the Bible Apps most bookmarked, highlighted and shared verse in 2014:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
As we meditate on the word and prayerfully seek renewal by the power of the Spirit, our whole outlook on the world around us changes so that we think differently. Every experience and every moment an opportunity for worship, service and conformity to His good, pleasing and perfect will.