So I “bought” (it was actually free, as a gift for being an Amazon Prime member) a book yesterday, and I finished it today, and what I noticed is that, when you read that much, you immerse yourself totally into that universe.
Whether you liked the story, where it takes place sticks with you, good or bad. Depending on how much you like pieces of it, you might find yourself wanting to write in it, taking the world that someone else built and creating in it. Though the world itself isn’t originally yours, you see so many possibilities within it and can’t help but run wild.
This happened a lot to me when I was starting out, but I never created my own worlds. I was always too scared. I had a friend who would prattle on about the language he was creating for a world he made up months ago, the maps he was drawing out, and just how immersed he was in the whole thing. And I still remember that feeling of embarrassed intimidation, that I wasn’t as good as he was and that I could never get that far with something as he had.
It’s funny when I look back on it now, because I’ve found myself thinking of languages and certain barriers to consider in a huge, wide universe, and I drew a map for a world I was working on just a few weeks past… Then again, it’s been over ten years now, and I’ve come quite a ways from the beginning.
Even a decade later, though, I still find myself wanting to write in someone else’s universe, though I know I’m wholly capable of being original and doing things on my own. The difference lies in indulging someone else’s creation, which I do with Friend a lot. He and I have created a lot together, and on the other hand, he created a universe I took over.
There’s just something about a steampunk-feel world of wizardry based on materials (paper, rubber, plastic, metal) that I just can’t get enough of though. (Just in case you were wondering the book is The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg ) It’s hard not to have the possibilities spring up on you where you go, “OH!” and want to write. Hell, I’ve felt this way for several different things, and I think that’s when you know the setting or the story has really clicked with you.
Creating on your own is something that takes time. We start off standing, and then we can walk, and then eventually we progress into running. Some people start off making their own worlds, but the quality is what changes the most. It goes from simple to detailed and flourishing. Wordsmith at 12 couldn’t come up with a universe half as beautiful as Wordsmith at 24 did.
And there’s something I think of every time I bring this up, progress and improvement: an album someone put together of their drawings from when they were a kid up to the point they were at the time of the posting. You can see how someone gets better from the beginning to the latest point. It’s just remarkable, to me, I love seeing that. The same goes for writing; you can see how your style develops over time, and things you miss and place in on purpose.
I was one who started worldbuilding in another world. And then I just stuck to someone else’s worlds until I wanted out, to make something for myself, and really expand and create on my own in ways that I couldn’t with the pre-established ones.
Don’t ever be afraid to dabble in someone else’s world (provided there’s consent and copyrights aren’t being violated and all the legal nonsense doesn’t get involved…), and there’s nothing wrong with staying in that world until you’re comfortable making your own. And if you’d rather not make your own, that’s perfectly good, too.
Go at your pace, seems to be the message throughout a lot of my posts, I notice. Go at your pace, do what you enjoy, and chase down every piece of creativity you can find in any way you like. Can’t go wrong there.
-The Novice Wordsmith