Five Things I’ve Learnt Through Writing

1. Writing, when I do it as well as I can, is even more fun than reading.

It absorbs me totally. There is nothing else that I want at that moment than to write.

2. Having written means a lot less than the act of writing.

Once a story is complete and published (web or print) it’s no longer really mine. At best, the story is like an old lover for whom you have affection but with whom you are no longer intimate. You know each other well but you’ve both moved on. Neither of you are who you were when you were together. At worst the story becomes an ex-colleague that you discover rather belatedly, you never really liked and are glad not to have to spend time with.

3. To beware of the appeal of the next story…

the one that is nudging your imagination, rubbing itself against your ankles and curling its tail around your calf to convince you that you should ditch the half-completed tale that is anyway dying beneath your fingers and move on to something new and fresh and eager.

It sometimes turns out to be sweet but more often deserts you before your relationship is consummated in print, leaving you regretting the tale you heartlessly abandoned and to which you now hesitate to return.

4. That the more you write, the less you know about yourself and the more you know about others.

You know more about others because writing fiction demands that you look at the world through many eyes. To wrestle the story onto the page you must live behind those eyes, see what they see, feel what it is to be them. I find that that kind of writing decreases my eagerness to judge.

You know less about yourself because you become aware of the vast tracts of unvisited landscape that your imagination and perhaps the you that is really you, inhabits and you know that you cannot map it all. The landscape is too large and its attributes are not fixed and you wonder how, if you do not know yourself, others can possibly think that they know you?

5. Trying to write changes how you read

You see things clearly that, as a non-writing reader, were no more than fleeting impressions. You were perhaps always aware of the writer’s voice or power of visualisation or gift for dialogue but you probably didn’t find yourself looking at the changes of tense, the modes of exposition, the choice of whether or not to follow the rules of grammar and punctuation.

This is probably why writers are advised to read.

Have you every seen dancers working out choreography? One will try a move; another will copy it and add a step or two. The dancers feed off each other. You can see the eager “I wanna try that” response to the new and the clever and the respect for the perfectly timed and executed standard.

Now writers are not performance artists but they can still feed of on another’s work, still have that “Wow, I want to try that” reaction.

2 thoughts on “Five Things I’ve Learnt Through Writing

  1. I needed this. I needed the reminder to beware of the next story. I get so frustrated with my attempts to express my thought I give up and post it…then move on to the next fantasy. It’s so much easier than struggling to grow as a writer.

    As always, I love and learn from your blog.

    Dark Echos

    • Thank you. The next story still tugs at me more than I should let it. It’s partly why I have a C drive full of partially complete tales.

      Thanks for stoppiing by and taking the time to comment.

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