Thursday, June 18, 2009

Journey to see through someone else's eyes

An essay by my friend Joel.

Today I am going to look at writing a story through someone else's eyes. That would make sense if I want to improve my writing skills. Up until now my writing has been through my own eyes. I have to say that I like that more than writing through someone else''s eyes. I feel very uncomfortable trying to speak for someone else. I really don't like it at all. It felt wrong when I have attempted to write from someone else's point of view in the past. For me, it might be wrong today as well. But, that is the exercise of the moment. Can I tell you anything as if I were seeing it through someone else's eyes?

I'm not going to pressure myself to do this. Instead I am going to coach myself and try to find out if it works for me. In the meantime I am going to do what I always have done. Which is, more or less thinking out loud. I have to say that it has been working for me. So, I am not in such a hurry to move into another mode. The danger of trying to stretch myself is that I may stretch myself too far and stop writing altogether. That has happened plenty of times before. I like to think of it as the "burn it up" phase because when I reach it I want to completely destroy everything I had ever written. Somehow the idea of a fire taking it all away is comforting. But that is only when I am in that "burn it up" phase. I try not to get myself into that phase too often.

The thought of writing through someone else's eyes bothers me enough to raise the warning flag. So I will approach this exercise with caution. They say, "he who turns and runs away lives to fight another day." If I'm not up to figuring out how to write through someone else's eyes right now I would prefer doing something else that doesn't raise the "up in smoke" response.

So, here I am. Just me. Talking out loud about nothing.

This is how I start. This is how I begin to explore.

Now you may be thinking...

Boom. There it is. Could this be the beginning of seeing through someone else's eyes?

I don't think so. "Now you may be thinking..." is just what comes up for me when I write. That's me taking both sides of the argument. And frankly, I don't like going that way. I tend to get lost in a made up argument in my head and waste my time and the reader's time trying to defend myself against this inner critic.

I tend to be very critical of my work. So as I am writing, a part of me watches my every move with a critical eye. I am asking myself now what this critic is looking for. Is it the truth? Yes. No. Maybe.

Well, here we go... Now I'm going to get into a conversation with myself about it.

I might as well go for it. The conversations are always going on in my mind. I just don't want to bother you with all of this.

I've been accused of spending too much time thinking about things. I've been told that I should just do it. "Yes, you should think things through but then you need to make a decision and move on from there."

I don't know to what extent I agree with this advice. And this is the kind of conversations I have with the critic in my mind all the time.

This reminds me of a story about how intense these inner conversations can get.


A guy once had the idea to get up very early - at the crack of dawn. So he set his alarm to wake himself up.

When the alarm went off he said to himself, "Wow. What a good idea. I can get so much done by starting my day at this early time. I shouldn't waste a minute."

Then he hears a voice in his mind say, "Yea, but you can remain in bed for a little longer and it won't make that much of a difference. You'll still get what you need to done today."

He thought about it and it sounded like a good idea.

Then a second voice in his mind said, "No, don't listen to him. He's going to mess up your whole day. You need to get your feet moving. The early bird gets the worm."

He considered that and agreed that this is also a good point.

The first voice responded, "But, if you stay in bed a little longer you will feel more rested and therefore you will eventually be more productive."

Anyway, they argued back and forth, each presenting a very compelling side to the argument. The guy said to the voices look I don't have a strong preference either way so I'll let the two you decide whether I should get up or stay in bed. Just tell me when you've come to some consensus.

He figured that as long as they were busy arguing he might as well take a short snooze.

He said he woke up four hours later and they were still arguing. That's how strong the voices can be.


I try to avoid getting sunk by these critical voices. I spend so much time fending off the criticism of these inner critics that I can't imagine writing from someone else's point of view.

I have a list of things that I avoid doing. Evidently, this exercise falls into that category. I may just finish up this entry with the recognition that it was too much for me to do today. I don't see it happening. but at least I got to see what comes up when I consider it.

Written by Joel.

No comments: