Friday 9 January 2015
In order to write, you need to read. It’s a well-worn piece of advice that writers will give to other writers. When you think about it, it’s a piece of advice that seems to make sense. Logically, if you want to be able to create a story or a poem or whatever form your writing needs to take, then it serves you to see how others are doing it. By reading published works, you can learn how to construct a story, created and develop characters, structure chapters, refine dialogue, and anything else you need to know in order to write. This is one side of the writing advice story.
Of course, if you want to learn how to construct a story, write one. If you need to create and develop characters, write them. By writing your own chapters, you can learn how to structure them. Write dialogue if you are working towards refining it. Another piece of excellent writing advice: just write.
My problem with writing is created by my love of reading. For me, it’s all well and good to follow the first piece of writing advice, however, when I read I find it terribly difficult to write. It’s as though the act of reading stifles my ability to write. I don’t know why it happens but when I get stuck in to reading a book, BAM! there goes any hope I have of whipping out any kind of blog post, or story, or whatever it is that I’d been planning to write.
I can sit in front of Dysfunctional Mac for hours and nothing will come of my writing attempt. Side note: Dysfunctional Mac seems to have settled his errant behaviour, thanks to a bit of investigation and advice from my tech guy, Drew. Anyway, back to the point . . . if I’ve been reading a book, my Word document can be open for hours and perhaps I’ll fart around with a few words, but ultimately I’ll end up deleting them and be left with nothing. An empty document, a blank page, an unblemished screen. Not a flipping thing.
However, if I’ve gone off reading (despite the fact that I have possibly hundreds of unread books waiting in my ‘to read’ piles) I can whip up a blog post in a matter of minutes, a story over the course of a few days, create a whole world of characters in my head. Ideas will form in my head at any time, characters will create themselves, and plots will line up like lil ducks in a row, all as long as I’m not reading a good book. Or a bad book. The quality of the book is irrelevant . . . as much as my attempts at writing are when I’m reading the book of irrelevant quality.
So, I find I live by a double-edged sword where writing is concerned. Read to expand my writing skills and I stop writing. Easily write stories or blog posts, and I have to lay off the reading. I know what you’re thinking: find a nice balance between reading and writing. Oh, believe me, I’ve tried but there is no middle ground. It’s one or the other – reading or writing. And yes, it does fit in a lil bit with my OCD tendencies.
If I didn’t love cake as much as I do, this wouldn’t really be an issue. But, I can’t have my cake and eat it too. Or in this case, I can’t write my book and read it too. Yeah, yeah, I know . . . that was a dodgy wrangling of the ol’ cake-eating adage. Hmmmm, looks like I might just be getting back into the writing thing. Blogs – cheaper than therapy! 😉