I said, last week, that I would start in on some ideas for helping shape your life so that it is more conducive to writing. If you’re like any other person venturing out into the wilds of writing, you enjoy the time you spend writing, but there are many distractions which can keep you from doing that which gives you the most joy. Work, house chores, and daily/weekly errands all seem to confound even the best of intentioned writers. You wake up, filled with the promise of a day of seemingly uninterrupted writing time and then things spring up all over the place, and your day no longer what you had imagined it to be. But all is not lost.
Being a writer takes on many different permutations. You have the Ray Bradbury-type who has been writing 1000 words a day since he was 12. You have the one-book wonders who will spend a year or so writing only one book and then moving on to a different career, giving up the idea of being a career writer. And then you have the in-between types who live by the idea that everyday must incorporate some writing, no matter how little. I know that I definitely fall in the “in between” type of writer.
But when we consider how to grow in our life as a writer, we immediately find that if we are indeed serious about making writing a greater priority in our life, then we need to adjust our priorities so that our ability to write is enhanced and encouraged. And this is where reading comes into focus.
We all started out as readers, before we became writers. This was a very natural and easily overlooked inspiration to us. Usually what genre we right is directly attributable to the type of writing that we read or enjoy the most. There are instances where someone’s ability to write in a different genre is better than their favorite genre, but this is the exception, rather than the rule. As well, we all have our favorite authors as well as those whose style inspired us to write in the first place. So if we are not continuing to read just as much or even more than what we would normally read, it would not be wrong to assume that your fervor to write would wane a bit. The two are amazingly intertwined. As an analogy to my former life as a professional golfer, if you don’t practice all the various parts of your golf game, nor practice on a course that is similar to the one that you are preparing to play in a tournament, then it would be difficult to imagine that you would do well once the tournament begins. Writing your novel can be a lot like playing a tournament in that once you start, you never analyze it or try to fix it until the round, or even the tournament, is over. So when we are not writing our novel, we are working on the different parts of our “game”. Reading, in this analogy, is akin to watching golf tournaments on tv or even taking lessons from golf coaches as they help to shape the kind of player that we want to be. As a golfer, watching others go through the experience can be just as helpful to our mentality as reading would be to being a writer. The ways in which golfers respond to different situations is just the same as reading how different authors handle different things like: dialogue, narrative, creating tension, and characterization. The more we read an individual author’s work, the more we realize what techniques that particular author uses in creating better characters, or creating complexity within the story. Just like watching particular golfers, we can easily analyze and categorize the various strengths and weaknesses of certain authors and then we can re-examine their works to see which stories work well and why they do.
We all have the moments of being sucked into a great story. But sometimes we need to ask ourselves why we do. Is there a certain way in which the author uses words? Is there a particular style that is emphasized over another in creating such a great story? Make sure to use your literary skills to dissect the author and what it is that they do to achieve the intended result.
I hope this helps.
I want to continue on the subject of “The Life” in future posts.
See you soon!!