I posted earlier this week about being energized, so now I am happy to say I have had a good writing week as a result. Yesterday was a great writing session. I had been working on Chapter 19, and it was the same old routine. I start it out, knowing everything that needs to happen and then it stagnates halfway through because I get bored with the writing. Typically this is because it is deciding action leading up to some exciting action that I can’t wait to write about. I’m impatient to get there and so I end up getting frustrated and letting it sit. This week is a victory because while this happened twice, I made myself go back each time and slog through it. Thus, I have two finished chapters here on Friday and that is something that hasn’t happened in a long time!
Yesterday, when I sat down to hammer out the rest of 19, one of these great moments occurred where your characters take over your brain and your fingers type out some crazy stuff you hadn’t planned on. For the first time, I was writing an entire chapter in the POV of one of my secondary characters. This refreshing change naturally leads to better character development, but the end of the chapter spelled out some feelings that I had never anticipated putting into words. So now there is another layer in my plot, and that was much needed. Now the reader will go into the big action scene coming up with yet another layer of dramatic tension in their mind. That’s always a good thing. There is still quite a ways to go, but I have mapped out a couple defining events that should propel things forward faster. And all the characters should be back in one general setting soon, so that is sure to provide some dramatic material.
It may sound cliche, but I feel as if my best education in writing has come from the books I’ve read. In today’s MFA culture, sometimes the degree one has seems to count for more than practical experience. While a master’s degree in creative writing would certainly be valuable, I think its important not to discredit the hands on learning that books offer an author.
I have been reading since I was very young and it has always been my preferred escape rather than the sports or video games that my contemporaries engaged in. I don’t believe there has been a time in my life where I haven’t had a book I was currently reading. In college, my reading list became somewhat dictated by my English professors, but the point is, I kept reading.
Thus, in the back of my mind, I always wanted to write one of these stories like the ones I have devoured constantly. And, when the time came (after so much writer’s block!), I found it relatively easy to let the words flow and trust that they would fit themselves into at least decent construction of a novel.
I think this osmosis of writerly learning is best demonstrated by how I have navigated through writing a trilogy. Characters popped into the storyline and filled in little gaps, complicated the plot, and I had usually not premeditated their arrivals all that much. When I started writing Inductance, it was second nature to me to gloss back over some of the major events from Capacitance in the first chapter, to refresh readers (even though I personally let my eyes skim over these reminders in books that I read).
As well as giving one a sense of how stories are crafted, a lifetime of readership can provide the wealth of random and seemingly useless knowledge that a true writer will have accumulated in their gray matter. I can’t tell you how many times I have spouted off with some random fact or known the answer to a trivia question in a board game, and when questioned how I came by that knowledge my answer was, “from reading.”
So, if you’re a writer, don’t spend so much time trying to get your book on the shelves that you forget all the other titles alongside it. And even if you aren’t a writer, never underestimate the mind expanding nature of a good book. 🙂