Posts tagged ‘writing’

May 1, 2011

Writing long texts: What you need to do

by caroanna

If you ever tried to write a long, thoughtful article, research paper, or maybe a novel, you know the common problems: Where to start? How to motivate? How to keep overview?

Eric Maisel came up with 7 essential steps to finish a long text in time and in good quality. In “Deep Writing” (1999), he tells writers how to accomplish the daunting task without losing the joy of writing.

Here are Maisel’s 7 steps in quick summary:

      1. Quiet the mind

No one can concentrate well when they’re distracted. Distraction doesn’t only come from external noise, such as chatter from neighbors, but also internal noise, especially thoughts that are not related to your work. Say “Ssh!” and quiet your mind before you start.

      2. Hold and follow your intention

Think about what you want to write, write an outline or project summary, and follow it by action. No intention is a good intention if we don’t actually do it.

      3. Make choices

What do you want to write? Think about the topic, but also your audience and your personal skills. The same topic can be written in very different ways, depending on who’s going to read it and if you know how to write about it. Decide what you want your text to be like.

      4. Honor the process

Writing is hard. Writing takes time. As much as writing is fun, it can be a daunting task sometimes. Some people think anyone can write, but if they sit down to actually do it, they realize how difficult it can be. Respect the work that goes into it, and pull through.

      5. Make the work your friend

If you reach one of those difficult moments where you just want to stop writing altogether, make it your friend. Every friendship or relationship has its ups and downs. If you treat your project as a friend, you’ll realize that every fight has its reconciliation.

      6. Evaluate

Few writers ever write good texts in their first attempt. If you set out to create the perfect text right away, you’ll never get there. Good writing usually takes a lot of editing and rewriting. Judge your words; here you don’t have to be nice to them.

      7. Do what’s required

As unromantic as it is, often writers just need to do what others want them to do. Learn to write whenever and wherever you can, not when “inspiration” hits you. While you’re waiting for your muse, others are practicing, creating and lauded for their accomplishments.  

For more explanation on each step, read “Deep Writing” by Eric Maisel. It’s a quick read, informative and entertaining. Get it on Amazon.com here.

March 20, 2010

Keeping or not keeping?

by caroanna

Dear diary,

I confided in you my deepest secrets when I was younger, only to realize that it’s a bad idea to give others the chance to know them. Yet, in my teenager folly, I still wrote some passages that I should have kept to myself.

Now, I’m older and wiser (I said wiser, not wise) to not confide in you, especially not in electronic form.

Yet, some writers found a new trend in publishing their diaries, or at least keeping one. Should I trust their wisdom and write down what is better forgotten?

Maybe. But I won’t. My secrets can be veiled in metaphors to make them accessible to me, and only me. Works better than a password.

And when I’m old and interested in how I thought and what I did when I was young, I read my stories and wonder how on earth I could have come up with them.

Goodbye diary,

your faithless writer

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March 14, 2010

Typing away your day…

by caroanna
I imagine many writers dream about a life dedicated to writing. No need to be somewhere at a particular time because you can write anywhere, at home, in cafes.
“In normal times, they tap away in their ‘offices’ at Starbucks, thanking their lucky stars for the book contracts that allowed them to give up their day jobs. But in recent months a cry has gone out for fiction writers to get up from behind their laptops and get back to work, real work — or at least to start writing about it again.”
– Jennifer Schuessler, “Take this job and write it,” The New York Times Sunday Book Review (March 14, 2010)

Of course it’s nice to spend your day doing whatever you want. But let’s not forget that novelists usually don’t just write some stories by using imagination. Their stories are often a reflection of society, however hidden an elusive it is. Good novels are usually somehow related to the current society.

So, in order to know something about the society you write about, even if your character live on, say, a planet like Pandora, you need to immerse yourself in it. If you wanna write about life, you need to live it first!

February 1, 2010

A world without readers? What a sad vision.

by caroanna

J.D. Salinger may not be able to actually rest in peace with everybody talking about his reclusive life now that it’s over.

But Jennifer Finney Boylan has a point when she writes that the literary recluse is nothing to be jealous of. Writing without the purpose of it being read is keeping a journal or therapeutic writing. That’s fine, if you enjoy it. But I don’t think these are writers.

Writers relish people reading what they have to say. What makes writing worth its while is when other people take the time to read it and think about it. That’s the greatest compliment you could pay to a writer. Even if you hate their style or content. I will deem myself a successful writer if someone cares to comment on it because he wanted to read it, not because he has to or because he knows me.

June 8, 2009

Just what I was talking about…

by caroanna

   I’m not sure if I’m glad or sad about Paul Nizon’s comment on writing:

“Ein normaler, angepasster Mensch würde doch gar nicht mit dem Schreiben anfangen, Schreiben kann man ja nur aus einem Übermaß oder einem kardinalen Defekt heraus. Auch ein glücklicher Mensch würde doch nie schreiben wollen oder müssen. Also am Anfang ist der Defekt oder das Querstehen oder das Ausgestoßensein und nie das harmonische Aufgehen in einer Welt oder Gesellschaft oder Umgebung.”

   So, basically he’s arguing that happy and content people don’t feel the urge to write, they don’t need it and they can’t. He mentions that you need to have a flaw of some kind, probably caused by rejection or not fitting into your surroundings. So what would you chose if you could? Feeling good about yourself and walking on air through life or being a good writer? Damn, I hope he’s wrong…