Writing as Remote Viewing
Every now and then, somebody asks me about my writing process. More often than not, I compare it to remote viewing.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, remote viewing is “the practice of seeking impressions about a distant or unseen target using subjective means, in particular, extrasensory perception (ESP) or “sensing with mind”. Google it, if you wish, and read for days and days.
Apart from the whole matter of what remote viewing is™ or isn’t™, whether it’s real™ or imagined™ (and what the reality about that distinction might actually be…), remote viewing serves as a great metaphor for what it feels like when I write.
I don’t start with much. A few characters. A beginning premise or situation or conflict. Maybe a few vague notes about character or setting or plot. An idea or two about where the story might be headed. Then I close my eyes, find my characters, and follow them around, observing where they go and what they do and what they say. I write down what I observe.
Some days the “seeing” is good. Other days it’s gray and muddled. Sometimes it’s very visual, other times auditory, or emotional. However it presents itself, I just do my best to capture the story as it unfolds. And then, on subsequent drafts, I go back to the places that were fuzzy and jumbled, and try to view more precisely, and fill in the gray spots, and correct the things I had not seen clearly the first time through.
It’s a bit of a high-wire act, I know. An act of trust in something other than my rational mind. A process that could go horribly awry. But based on my reviews, it seems to be working for me. And my own experience shows me, over and over, that I can trust my process. I find myself regularly amazed at how plot twists and character details and thematic ideas appear, settle in, shape and guide the story, and eventually all fit together as if I had planned it that way. It’s an exciting way to work. And so fun. And ultimately, quite fulfilling, as I feel connected, in that process, with the “something larger” that my rational mind tells me is there.
It feels as though the characters live outside of me, as if the story is unfolding in some other portion of the great Mind At Large. Inside the Idealist philosophy, I might argue that it actually is. From the dominant Materialist philosophy, I might argue that the story I’m “observing,” as if from the outside, is really all inside of my own brain, bubbling slowly to consciousness. As someone committed to sitting with all of the above whenever I can, I could argue that the distinctions I might make between “inside my mind” and “outside my mind” are merely matters of perspective and focus.
In the end, I don’t feel like arguing for anything. It works for me, and so I do it. I love my process for the places it takes me, the people I meet, and the wondrous things I get to see when I’m with them.
That’s enough for me. I trust that it is enough for my readers.