Apr 6, 2012

Reading to Write

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut.” ~ Stephen King, On Writing

“It's hard for me to believe that people who read very little (or not at all in some cases) should presume to write and expect people to like what they have written.” ~ Stephen King, On Writing

I'm a reader ~ something we've already established long ago. But, I'm also a writer, and even though I do have a blog which requires me to write posts at least every other day, you might not have known that I also write fiction. Of course, none of my work is public, except to the eyes of my ever-supportive husband, but that's because it's not finished. Whether it's good or crap remains to be seen, but the artist in me does not like to reveal anything but a finished product,

I used to be intimidated by writing. I didn't know where to start or what I should write about. I'd create outline after outline, like I did with my college research papers, and try to go from there only to reach dead ends every single stinkin' time. I thought everything needed to be organized, in precise order, and perfectly edited as I went along. Then, after a very frustrating hour of writing and deleting, I started researching. Yes, I had the nerve to actually Google "how to write a novel," (shameful, I know) and I came across the usual infomercial-type ads telling me they could help me write a book in thirty days, blah, blah, blah, BS... but once I got past the salesy gibberish, I landed upon the inspiration and the confidence I was painstakingly looking for.

Anyway, as you can tell from the quotes above, a lot of this inspiration was instilled in my growing writer's mind by the revered Stephen King.

Who knew reading was one of the tools needed to write? I had no idea I was learning to write as I read, and now that I'm aware of the knowledge I can take away from every book I read, I find myself rereading paragraphs, highlighting sentences that are unusual or have beautiful descriptions so I can tuck them away for future reference. I still read just for the joy of reading ~ there should be no other reason for it ~ but now I know that my obsession is much more than an infatuation or a hobby and will help me hone my skills as a writer.

So, I had the reading part down to a tittle, but I still needed to work on just sitting down in front of a blank page and filling it. Where in the H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks should I start?

Then I came across a quote by another favorite of mine, Nora Roberts. "You can fix anything but a blank page," she says. That got me thinking ... that I was thinking too much. I just needed to write. Crap can always be fixed, but a blank page ~ there's nothing TO fix. So I did that thing that either carries me off to another world or blocks my creative mood completely ~ I thought.. and thought.. and thought.

Why did everything have to be organized? I wasn't writing a college paper. I wasn't getting graded on this or had a deadline. I was doing this for myself. So I threw everything I thought I should do to a dark corner of my mind where it wouldn't (hopefully) slither up and bother me, and I just sat down and wrote the first scene that came to my head. It wasn't in the beginning of the story, it wasn't at the end ~ it was somewhere in the middle. A few days later, I reread the scene I'd written and ideas just started flooding in. How did this character get to this point? What tragedies and joys have these characters experienced to make them who they are? What type of world are they living in? And from there, my own writing inspired what is becoming the rest of my book.

So what I gathered from all this, so far, is that to be a good writer, you have to read ..and read ..and read... and after you do that, you need to knock down all the boundaries and organizational walls you set up in your mind and just let the words flow from your fingers.

Don't edit. Don't fix. Don't stop.

Just write.

Happy Reading (or Writing) Everyone :)

~ Keely ~

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