Writing at its Best is Remembering

When I‘m writing a pure fiction it sometimes doesn’t feel like inventing things at all; it‘s more like remembering. It feels like that things are miraculously appearing in front of my eyes, I am able to feel the exact emotions, all my other senses are reproducing the exact sensation, although I have never been to that place, nor lived through that moment, but I can still remember it; and all I have to do then is to write it down as vividly and correctly as possible.

Am I the only one

I am sure that I am not the only writer who has experienced that phenomenon but I have been curious about it ever since. I don‘t know about the others, but for me, it doesn‘t happen often. These are the rare magical moments of writing which I want to have more of. If I try to force them or invite them, they never appear. They come unexpectedly and silently and I can point each of them in my previous novel – Bloody Green; the murder in the monastery, the crucifixion, the overpass scene of a young artist and his friend, the first art exhibition, the last art exhibition, saving the artist from committing suicide and some others.

The readers can feel them

The interesting thing is that readers can identify these scenes. I would often get questions like:

How could you write these scenes in such convincing details? Have you really experienced them?

And, my answer is, of course:

No, I have never witnessed anyone being murdered, or raped, or trying to commit suicide nor I have been an active participant in any of these events.

But it feels real, and it feels like remembering, and for me, that‘s the writing at its best.

I might have an answer to this phenomenon after all

While reading Evolve Your Brain: The Science of Changing Your Mind by Joe Dispenza I ran into an interesting fact.

Your brain does not know the difference between your doing the action or your remembering how to do the action.

This fact is a product of an experiment done on three groups of people. The first group has been instructed how to play the certain musical scale on a piano, and they were practicing every day. The second group was also instructed how to play the scale, but instead of practicing on the piano, they were doing their rehearsal mentally; they would imagine the keyboard and their hand pressing the keys. The third group, which was the control group, wasn’t given any instructions, but they were given the piano to play whatever they liked. It is important to note that none of these people had previous experience of playing the piano.

After several weeks, it was obvious that the first group made a huge improvement in playing the scales. The second group, which was only practicing mentally, showed the same amount of improvement as the first group. The third group didn‘t show any progress at all.

That proves that our brains don‘t know the difference between thing created in our heads and the things that we have actually experienced.

What does it tell me for my writing?

So, I thought that perhaps I could explain why do I feel like remembering things while inventing them, but first I needed to find a missing link.

The fact is that when I have story ideas, I never write them down because I am a firm believer that everything worth writing will be stored in my memory. If I like the idea, instead of writing it down, I start thinking about it. Sometimes I would think for an hour, sometimes for weeks or even years.

In my opinion, the key answer lays in the thinking process. Usually, when thinking about the idea, let‘s say that it‘s a murder, I would go over the cause, motives, try to recreate the scenes, try to figure out what could go wrong I would mentally rehearse that process over and over again, until I find out that certain event has a fine possibility of actually happening if all the conditions are met.

Therefore, when I sit down to write it would just feel like remembering because my brain doesn‘t know the difference between thinking and living through the actual event. My job would be to simply fill the gaps and round up the story, which is something that actually happens when we are retelling the actual stories of our lives; we cannot remember every single detail, so we are filling the gaps to make the story more convinceable.

Do you also experience your fiction writing as remembering or do you have the different experience? Please, tell us in the comment‘s section below.