“Writers are explorers.” This was a quote that stuck with me from a panel I attended at AwesomeCon 2018. While AwesomeCon is not a convention strictly for writers, there are a number of panels for writers of all genres.
This year, I attended a panel called “Games on the Page.” Three panelists that have had influences in their creative writing come from their favorite video games discussed with each other and their audience how they found inspiration in the video game industry. The discussion was not solely based on video games in writing, but instead expanded to how anyone can use anything they love, or hate, as inspiration for their next writing project.
Author and creative writing instructor Meg Eden told the audience of the panel that “writers are explorers.” She stated that we, as writers, explore our characters and our newly created world the same way you would explore a cave. In this, all three panelists agreed: use your exploration skills in the real world.
Explore the things you love and the things you hate. Learn why you love this particular object, yet deeply despise another. Their opinion for your best writing was to analyze everything you love and why you love it. Once you’ve determined that, learn how to steal these things and make them your own. Lynn Almengor, the other female panelist, told the crowd that she liked to watch bad movies or play bad video games so that she would know what not to do in her writing.
One member of the audience raised his hand and asked the panelists: what if you have trouble putting your ideas on paper and beginning to write? How do you go from there? They had quite a few suggestions for anyone with these struggles. Record yourself telling parts of the story. Don’t write it down, just talk through it and go back later to decide what you want to keep and what you want to throw out. Cheat sheets were a number one favorite for all three panelists as well, even if they were all used in different ways. You can use your cheat sheets to start mapping out a scene, jot down notes about certain characters or places. Write down everything you need to know, but might not be ready to put in that particular scene.
What about once you’ve finished your first draft? And you have to show it to people? You’re going to receive feedback. Some will be extremely helpful, some will seem cold and cruel. You might not now exactly what to do with all of the different feedback you’re receiving on your work. Luke Johnston’s advice? Breathe, and believe in your work. Luke, Lynn, and Meg all agreed that not all of the feedback you receive is going to help your writing. It is okay to screen out some of it, and completely ignore what others are saying. The more you write, the more you believe in yourself, you will eventually reach a point where you will know which feedback to take and which to ignore when it comes to your writing.
This panel was informative and enlightening. I, personally, now have new ways to help me better my own creative writing. As a writer, you are an explorer. Remember to explore everything, because you never know when it will be exactly what you need for your next writing project.