Monday, March 7, 2011

What I've Been Learning From Other Writers

It's amazing to me that time after time a number of people come up with a similar thought at the same time. I have read three posts in the last few weeks that all relate to the same topic in different ways.

The first was a post by Western Australian writer, Rosanne Dingli. Rosanne always has something interesting to say and in this post, as a member of ANZauthors, a Yahoo discussion group, she writes about her experiences while setting up a website for the group. She hooked me from the first. She starts 'You get to the point, as a writer, where you feel a bit jaded. You feel you have jumped through so many hoops that it's started to irk. You feel you have seen every version of a sentence... and daily writing starts to feel like a sentence. Of a very imprisoning kind.' Wow, I thought. I'm not the only one. Actually I did know what she is saying here but you need a reality check every now so that knowing becomes believing - and this was a very welcome push.

Rosanne goes on to talk about how she discovered how different all the writers in ANZauthors are and what a variety of other issues each has to contend with in their daily lives - and after visiting their website I can see exactly what she means. I'd recommend a visit. There's interesting stuff there.

While I was mulling this over up popped a post by Neil Gaiman in reply to a question from a fan of George R. R. Martin. Towards the end of a lengthy post you'll find this. It's actually a requested repost from 2009 but the synergy is still there. I felt an immediate connection with the requester's comments as he cleverly outlined his own struggles with wanting to write and real life. Thank you, Mathew, for reminding me that we all have the same experiences.

But to get back to Gaiman's post: in the original post, Entitlement Issues (better known as George R R Martin is not Your Bitch- and, yes, Gaiman is a little testy here) he deals with a questioner concerned that George R R Martin had not yet published the next book in his series who seems to feel that he was being let down by this. Gaiman points out that writers are not machines and that sometimes things do not work out as planned not to mention that authors have other things to do in their lives apart from just writing. Here we have another author letting us know that writers sometimes write in spite of what is happening around them, sometimes in response to what is happening around them and sometimes they don't write at all for a while because they have to deal with other things first. So here was another spur. It's easy to feel the urge to take a break, to give in when things are getting tough - but another option is to take a quick breather (paint the living room in one of Gaiman's examples) and then take that experience and use it. After all real life impacts on us all at one time or another. It's how we handle that impact which is important.

Then an email from Writer's Digest lobbed into my Inbox which led me to an article on their website by Bill O'Hanlon. Its title: 10 Ways to Fuel Your Writing. Hmm, I thought, I need that at the moment so I read on. O'Hanlon had a different take on how to make what is happening in your life, in particular the negatives, work for you. He gives examples of well-known writers who did just that. Some of them are just breath-taking and maybe my own daily struggles are not on the same level but, yes, I can see how I might use them.

So what am I taking from these posts? Well, to start with, all writers have busy lives and sometimes real life does get in the way. The trick is to accept this and learn how others deal with those times when the process grinds you down. There's nothing much better than when you are on a roll and the words just fall into perfect place on the page but in reality we all know that doesn't happen often. There will always be times when it becomes hard grind as we hone and polish, just as there will be times when ideas just seem to dry up. That's when we need to turn to our fellows and learn from them and since most writers are generous folk, they share their experiences - on their blogs and websites as the writers I've linked to have or in workshops, writing and critique groups (on-line and face to face). Look around and you'll find help. Then it's up to you to use it.

1 comment:

  1. Jolly good post, Helen, and one whose message we should carry away with us and remember when things get heavy.