Sometimes a little time apart can help your writing to grow…
When you’ve left a piece of writing aside for a little longer than intended, the time between the last word written and the next letter to touch the page often grows exponentially.
The rule of thumb being – the more distance there is between you and the writing, the more difficult it becomes to dive back into it and pick up the story. So, you leave it a little longer still, you think perhaps it’s too much effort to reacquaint yourself with the intricacies of the plot and eventually, the poor old story is relegated to the ‘forget about it’ pile.
I don’t like to leave anything incomplete however, so my own piece of writing in this scenario, which started off well but sort of stalled as day-to-day workload consumed my time. has now been revived. (It was a ‘in the wee small hours’ sort of a revival). Let’s just say the story has been on simmer for a while, but now the heat’s being turned right back up. Inspiration/the creative urge can strike at any time and, while I’ve written other things since I last tackled this particular tale, it seems the time is right now to pick this one back up.
I’m not quite sure where it’s headed, but I have a skeleton trail to follow, so we’ll see where it takes me… Indeed, having been away from it for a while, I now feel refreshed and more excited to delve into it.
Having just finished a short story last week, I think these will perhaps take a backseat now for a little while, as I focus on this longer piece. I’m interested to see how it will all end and I think that this time around, less distraction will be good. There’s just one wee poem waiting in the wings, but it won’t detract too much from ‘the plan’.
After all – it’s good to keep a little bit of rainbow in your writing…
In the past couple of weeks I’ve been doing a heck of a lot of writing – just not necessarily the fictional kind. Yes, copywriting has been consuming my time, but my own stories have not been totally neglected – I’m currently editing one I wrote a little while ago to send out to a journal and I’m determined to get more words on the page during what’s left of this weekend.
I’m in a bit of a reading haze at the minute though. Some writers don’t like to read a lot or indeed, at all, while they’re writing – particularly books in their own genre – but what can I say, I like to multi-task. Reading feeds the imagination and to me, not to read while you write is to deny yourself literary sustenance for no good reason. Plus, it’s just good to take a break from your own words for a while with someone else’s.
I think most people are tuned in enough to stop themselves from blatantly copying work they read, and the great thing is – you just never know what ideas it might spark off for your own story…
After reflecting on the magic of writing last week, and how the extraordinary often lies in the ordinary, I thought I’d share a few things which have inspired my own writing this week.
Said inspiration refers to both writing still locked away in my thoughts for later, and also actual writing written.
My coastal walks with the pup offer a daily source of reflection of course, with the landscapes either inspiring in themselves, or simply allowing the space to think on other things.
But I also picked up the violin again over the weekend, after a fairly long break in playing, and have included this in my reflections this week, for I think music is another great way to step outside of yourself and give the mind free rein to wander and explore new ideas.
Music and words – whether we’re playing and writing, or reading and listening – can conjure up a torrent of emotions and ideas if we let them.
We can lose ourselves in both and maybe even make a few discoveries along the way…
‘I am sure there is magic in everything, only we have not sense enough to get hold of it and make it do things for us.’ – Frances Hodgson Burnett.
The extraordinary very often lies in the ordinary, if only we take the time to look and find it, though writers of course, are more likely to focus on the minor details of life than anyone else. A poem or a short story feeds off the seemingly mundane, presenting it in a way which makes the reader stop and think and re-examine. It uses language to convey new meaning, insight or wonder, shutting out the noise of the world to zone in on one particular thing.
I found myself, this weekend, at the foot of Seamus Heaney’s grave in Bellaghy. I hadn’t planned to go there and it was my first visit, but I was in the area and so it came about. Heaney of course, was highly skilled when it came to writing about the everyday in a way which enchanted readers of all ages. He found the magic in the mundane.
The spot where Heaney lies appeared fairly magical in itself on Saturday – well, as much as any plot in a graveyard can be – but on a cool spring day, with the sun dappling the ground with shadows, and the fields just visible through the branches which shelter the grave, it seemed the perfect contemplative corner for a poet to rest.
Making your readers spellbound with your words is what every writer wants, I imagine, but it can often seem an impossible task. I doubt I’ve ever achieved it myself. However, I do believe that if we take the time to pause, and look again at the world, we might just have a chance of conjuring up some of that magic in our writing after all…
I’ve mentioned before how the dark winter evenings inspire my writing, the bleakness of the season the perfect fodder for creating ghostly tales and the like. Similarly however, I find that spring in all its brightness and abundance is equally as inspiring and that my writing often reflects this in some way. I guess I’m a seasonal writer then, and it may be something to do with the fact that I’m out and about twice a day every day with my pup, trekking around the north coast come hail, rain or shine (coincidentally, all of which featured on yesterday morning’s walk!), soaking up the scenery and letting the mind wander off into the sights and sounds around us.
Of late, my writing has been sporadic enough – it’s inevitable that when I write business content all day, journalism, professional blogs and so on, the writing that forms my hobby can sometimes be squeezed out due to sheer lack of mental energy! To write something is often better than nothing, but I like to write knowing that there’ll be a story or a poem at the end of the process that I’m happy with, and prefer not to waste my energies on writing just for writing’s sake.
Anyway, over the past week, I’ve managed to scribble out a poem and work at a short story, with an idea for another one floating around in my head. With each new season comes the opportunity to renew focus, I think, and for me, it’s as good a time as any to get back into the swing of things…
All writing is somewhat autobiographical, whether we’re aware of it at the time of creation or not. Snippets and tippets of our life experiences seep into sentences, be it a memory, something we’ve read, a conversation overheard, or a mish-mash of all of the above. We may write ‘real’ with intent or without, but undoubtedly what we’ve encountered in life will affect what it is that we write.
I usually write fiction without overtly intending my characters or scenarios to be reflective of my own personal ‘real-life’, in that I aim not to write characters identifiable as anyone I know, or to have a situation occur where readers might link it to something which has happened to myself or to someone I know. However, I’m currently breaking with tradition in that my latest story is very obviously based around a person and their work who would be easily identifiable by a fair few people in NI. There are elements of truth woven into the fiction and the task I now have is deciding how best to present the story.
We all source our ideas from the life we see around us, but if the person in question was to read it, what would they think of it? How much does this matter to us as writers, and how much creative licence do we have when writing about people we know? I think these questions take on a more serious tone if the writing in question is dealing with sensitive or controversial issues and in this instance, my writing is not. It’s a tale inspired by the work of another creative soul and would cause no offence to them or anyone else.
The question remains however: How would you feel if you picked up a story and saw yourself – albeit a slight distortion of yourself – ensconced in a piece of fiction someone else had written…?
Here’s a little something I wrote recently for Jason O’Rourke’s Vernacularisms site. Happy Easter!
Royal Avenue hums with activity the further along she goes, pedestrians filtering in from side streets; dropping out of shop doorways and sliding into the throng from the Metros. The buses cut a pa…
Source: Guest Post: ‘A New Corner’ by Claire Savage