You can make diamonds. Did you know that?
See, I know a jeweler. One of the old school kind, too. He works out of his house and creates everything from scratch, from $500 wedding bands to $20k engagement rings. He’s part of a dying breed of specialists, and his knowledge is amazingly deep and wide. And one of the things I’ve learned from him is that while diamonds are rare, they can be made.
I know there are “fake” diamonds. Us men learn very early on that they are not supposed to buy them for the ladies in their life, for fear of a painful death or a decade-long silent treatment. But the fact remains that diamonds can be manufactured. And apparently, all it takes is a small speck of diamond dust. A “seed”, they call it.
Which got me thinking about writing (of course). Whether you write fiction like me, or non-fiction, a lot of what we do is built off of inspiration. You know how you can’t get a particular analogy out of your head (like diamonds?) and you simply have to write it down? Maybe it’s a scene for your next book and it flows from your brain to your fingers like melted butter, practically writing itself. It’s wonderful when that happens, isn’t it?
Those moments are born from inspiration. They are rare, and powerful, and because of that, valuable beyond words. I like to think of inspired moments of writing as diamonds. They are one of those “in the right place at the right time” occurrences, just like diamonds. And much like you, I love it when I find them.
But you can’t find them 24/7. It’s just not realistic to expect that. Everyone has dry spells where you sit down to write and you’re just not “feeling it”? And when they can’t find a diamond to run with for the rest of the evening, most people give up and walk away. But they forget that they can make their own diamonds.
When I’m not finding that truly inspired piece of plot in my brain, I start writing out the things I am certain I want to happen in a chapter. I might write out a summary of a scene, or even the snippets of a conversation or description. I’ll try to keep them in the order they need to flow in once the chapter is done. But the important part is to get these small “seeds” of writing out and on the table.
This does a couple things for me. First, it primes the pump. Nothing keeps me from writing like not writing. So when I force myself to type out even a few dozen words describing the smell of a forest or the one key phrase I need a character to speak in a scene, I have started the flow. The rest of the writing will be easier because I accomplished something at the start.
Secondly, these “seeds” really do allow me to create my own diamonds. I can look down at the page, and see a half dozen descriptions and statements, and start to built content around them. Little by little they begin to connect and join up into larger segments, and hopefully what I end up with is a cohesive chapter.
Are these moments as fun to write? Nope. Not at all. This is the point where writing resembles work more than any other time for me. But listen carefully: no one, not even bestselling authors and nationally known opinion piece writers, can pull diamond after diamond out of thin air without having to push a little harder every now and them. A novel is, in essence, a collection of completely inspired ideas tied together with the left-over strings of hard work and plodding along.
Or, put it another way: when writers can’t find diamonds, they make them. So what are you waiting for?