Not Set in StoneHere’s a game I like to play: I think about the answers that I’m waiting to hear and imagine that they’re not set in stone and that I can change them. Let me explain: If I’m waiting, say, to hear the final score of a hockey game that’s already over, I wonder if by thinking the outcome I want, I can change the reality. If I’m waiting to hear how I did on a test, I think thoughts of excellent scores and convince myself that anything I remember marking wrong is actually just a false memory.

If I don’t know the outcome, perhaps the pieces are still lining themselves up and I can still have an influence. It can be a challenging and exciting mental exercise to track down all the details that need to change, doors that need to open, switches that need to be thrown in order to allow for the outcome I have in my head.

Sounds a bit crazy, right? I see your point, but think of it like this: When you write a story and need to make a change, you must think through every part of the story to see how your change is affecting the whole. If, three quarters of the way in you realize your character is older or younger than you first depicted, you must go back and change every nuance of age in the writing, and you must also think through the unwritten details in your head, which are typically backstory that the readers never see but is mandatorily instrumental for the writer. (Why not just write it right the first time, you ask? A wonderful question! It brings to mind puzzles and a story told to me by Aleksandra Kasuba. I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow.)

When you make these changes, you realize they aren’t one-dimensional but more of a chain reaction. This change leads to that change. And if that is changed, then what follows is also changed, and so on.

The whole game is great analytical thinking, and it doesn’t take long for the writer brain to apply it to life. For it to work, all you need is to believe that you have influence, because, quite simply, you do. Though life seems to just happen, you can get a say. So be ready, and make your words count.

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Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. To learn more about her current writing projects, or for ways to donate toward their completion, see JodyBrown.com/writing.

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