The humility of reading books and exercises of gray matter
One of my goals for the New Year has been to read more books on the art of writing. I’ve read a few books here and there, but have always been afraid of becoming one of ‘those writers’ who only ever read about writing, without ever actually doing any writing. Eep.
I’ve heard about ‘those writers’. They read and read and read, yet never actually put pen to proverbial paper, chasing after a writing perfection that very well may never be achieved. I decided over a year ago that it was time to give up my perfectionistic behavior, beginning the journey of publishing my set of serial books. So, reading books about writing books? Well, it just seemed like I could better budget my time, to be quite honest.
However, over the past six months I’ve taken a different stance, realizing my writing life doesn’t necessarily need to be one or the other. There can certainly be a balance between the two – reading about writing and sitting down to do the actual deed – which spurred me to add this to my daily ‘to do’ list. Score for me, since it didn’t take until I was eighty-years old to figure this little nugget of truth out. Woot!
Recently, I read a book where the author suggested doing some creative free writing for at least half an hour, prior to actually tackling the project intended to be written. This wasn’t something new to me, having read it a number of times before, by various authors of books on writing. But each time I thought it sort of didn’t apply to me, since I always had a story burning inside my brain that just wanted to be written. I kind of thought it had been written for those newbie writers who didn’t have any direction yet, who were still waiting for that goldmine of a story to come together in their mind. I hated the thought of wasting my time writing something that I’d never use, when all I wanted to do was get to the good stuff.
Until now. Over the past number of months I’ve noticed a trend. It seems when I have someone read my initial unedited work, I often get feedback that certain parts are stiff, or feel forced. And each time, those sections are always parts that I’ve written after having just sat down, a whirlwind of thoughts from my day still spinning inside my head. Again, comments I receive regarding my best writing are for sections that have been written a good thirty or more minutes into the writing process, when most worries about life have been swallowed up by my fictional world.
And then it clicked. The first portion of my writing time – the section where I should be exercising my brain – really does prepare me for better writing. Regardless of whether I’m writing on a subject that will ever be read by another soul, or if it will become part of one of my books, the first number of minutes that I begin writing each day will always be my brain working through the cobwebs that have been spun since the last time I meditated on my storylines.
Eureka! Suddenly all those books I read on writing, – where the author encouraged me to sit down and just write, without forcing the work that I actually hoped to accomplish – they all made sense! It isn’t such a waste of time to just sit and write about anything. It’s actually beneficial. Who knew, right? (Ok, lots of people. Whatever.)
Thank you to every author of every book on writing, that stated that very thing. I’m sorry I ignored you for so very long. Will you forgive me? (There I said it!)
What about you? Is there a nugget of truth that you’ve recently applied to your writing that has given you an ‘Aha’ moment? I’d love to hear about it! Feel free to leave a comment below or to message me.
Happy reading, friends!