What does it take be a visionary writer?
“Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now… and even imagine real grounds for hope.”
— Ursula Le Guin
“Look closely at the present you are constructing. It should look like the future you are dreaming.”
— Alice Walker
I did a quick Google search on “what is visionary fiction?” just to see what would come up. I got a few different answers — from new age and spiritual to science fiction and fantasy.
Writer Walidah Imarisha uses the term specifically “to help talk about fantastical writing that helps us imagine new just worlds.” I love this. When you name a story “visionary fiction”, she says, you can “differentiate [it] from mainstream science fiction which so often just replicates the power inequalities of this world and grafts them onto the future.”
I am totally into this. But even if you aren’t writing science fiction, I dare you to be a visionary writer.
You’re an artist. Your work is about curiosity, discovery, dreaming and making. Your goal is to create. That means you get to go beyond anything that is already known or named.
This is actually your vocation: to create culture.
Writer and actor Dan Levy has actively chosen to write Schitt’s Creek without homophobia. It’s set in a small rural town — with no bigotry, ever. In a recent interview, he said he has no patience for homophobia. “As a result, it’s been amazing to take that into the show. We show love and tolerance. If you put something like that out of the equation, you’re saying that doesn’t exist and shouldn’t exist.”
There is no better time to start creating your vision of joy, justice, transformation, and belonging.
The art of words can be a powerful way to make change. So when you practice your craft, you are honing your superpower.
To be a visionary, write the story in which you want to live.
To do this, you must write well. You want your story to have purchase in a world of distracted readers. You want it to be more exciting than a newsfeed, more delicious than an app.
When you learn the tools of your craft, you become really good at writing characters, and dialogue that sparks off the page, and scenes that make us feel like we’re right there.
When you know how to write well, you can use your power for good.
As you write, make a choice to question a story’s structure, to see what it says about who we are. Then, if you don’t like a dominant story structure, change it. Maybe you’ll even name something that hasn’t been named before.
If you write without consciously questioning a story’s structure, you might be reinforcing certain cultural messages without even realizing it. That’s why stories are so powerful — they have a tendency to write us, if we don’t pay attention.
But you — you’re a writer. You pay attention. Do you have issues with anything you see happening today?
Write us a new story.
The universe is infinite, and always expanding. Your story’s potential is the same.
Be visionary. Become a visionary writer. Dare to write more than you know.
ps. Need help getting into the flow state? We can help. Check out our Find the Flow series and unblock that torrent of creativity!
Photo credit: Adrien Converse on Unsplash.