My 22 year old son asked me the other day about people who hear voices in their heads. He’s kind of random like that so I wasn’t surprised by the question but I was intrigued by the fact that no matter how I tried to explain it, he just wasn’t comprehending. For him, the concept of having another voice besides your own in your head was ridiculous. He finally said, “So they are crazy?” I looked at him and said, “I hear voices in my head”. He smiled at me like I was a little old guy who just said I couldn’t find my car keys and the conversation ended.
Let me start by saying that there are legitimate people out there who hear voices and they are mentally ill. This article is not for those people. This piece is for those of us who have active story going on in our heads all the time. Most writers will tell you that they write because they can’t not write…that is true of me too. I have stories in my head playing out on a daily basis. I am technically always working to some degree sorting through the voices, trying to hear the story they are telling so I can write it down.
This is not, hear voices like a schizophrenic…this is hear voices as in the characters are alive and well inside my head. No I don’t hear different personalities; that’s mental illness, I hear characters looking to populate a story I am working on and folks….I do listen to those little buggers.
In order to not go nuts, I have to listen to those voices and then give them something constructive to do. I need to explain that last line because I don’t mean forcing the story…I simply mean listening to them and then letting them do what comes naturally on the page. “Giving them something constructive to do” means letting them tell their story and, as a writer, that’s my job.
So if you are a writer and if you hear voices in your head….it’s okay, you are supposed to. Listen, let them tell you their story and as they get constructive, write it down. That, after all, is how great stories are developed.
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