Conflict is an intensifier in writing and in life. In this lesson we open the door to explore conflict as both danger and opportunity.
When my dad watches a movie or TV show and the conflict intensifies, he puts his arms up over his head. Conflict sparks a physical response. Conflict provides an emotional entry point into a story so the story is no longer over there, we are now immersed in it.
In life, conflict can be tough for everyone from children to adults. Working in schools as an administrator has given me a master class in understanding conflict. Over the years I’ve learned that in any complex situation if we can slow everything down (within us and around us), the conflict can change shape and tone.
Learning can feel like conflict sometimes because learning is change. We can feel discomfort and resistance and anger. There can be a gap between where we are and where we want to be. For example, if I am learning a new language I can feel my walls go up and my mind shut down in similar ways to when I feel like there is an injustice.
Stories help us to understand conflict. They can show us ways into tough situations and ways out of them. Writers entertain, educate, and engage us through a series of events that shift power, expectations, needs, and feelings among opposing forces.
My recent television binge has been the series ‘Billions.’ I was fascinated by how the series explores the shifting power dynamics between Bobby Axelrod and Chuck Rhoades. A billionaire from the streets versus an attorney from generations of privilege. A man of commerce vs. a man of civil service. The forces of good and evil are strong within them both. The story is the conflict and how it moves and changes shape. Neither man is entirely good or bad. It is compelling because of this tension. We wonder, who is the better man? Will the better man win? These overarching dramatic questions lead viewers through five seasons.
Watch the video to go deeper into the idea of conflict and how it relates to your writing process and projects.
We connect in community through teaching and learning writing. Over the last 20 years I’ve watched writing workshops explode in volume and scope across North America. Writers and workshops are easy to find.
In previous lessons we talked about the idea that the doorway to become a better writer is to become a better learner. We write what we learn AND we learn what we teach.
To become a better learner, become a teacher.
We can write in community and we can write for community.
I’ve always enjoyed writing in community, gathering to bring our creations to life alongside each other. We feed on collective energetic sustenance to keep our projects alive and on accountability to keep our bottoms in the chair to get the writing done. This video explores the value of a writing community.
The larger community we serve as writers is our audience. How do you know when something is ready for publication? How do you find a place to publish your work? This video also explores ways of navigating the publishing industry so you can connect to a community of readers.