By: Donna W. Hill
After several decades of observing and writing about my fellow inhabitants of Planet Earth, I can’t recall ever thinking that anyone didn’t have a story to tell. Whether it is the true account of your life’s journey, your perspectives on the world or a fictional tale, everyone has something unique that could be captured through the written word.
Why then, do so few write? There are many reasons; from the profoundly sad belief that they have nothing to offer to the absurdly arrogant notion that their story is so special that someone else should be writing it, excuses abound. Two things, however, stand out as a plague impacting most would-be writers:
- they don’t recognize the importance of deliberate and protracted empathetic thought.
- they haven’t incorporated the respect for and the process of editing.
Time Away From the Computer: The Benefits of Thinking
When J.K Rowling came up with the idea for the Harry Potter series, she was on a train without pen and paper. She has often said that this was a blessing, because she spent the time thinking through the story.
Thought is a far more efficient method of testing plot lines and character attributes than writing them down. Making snap decisions about a character’s background, without walking in that character’s shoes along the paths which led to the story at hand, leaves the writer with less information about the story.
While the fingers are poised above the keyboard or curled around a pen, questions that arise about the things necessary to carry out a given plot are often brushed to the back of the mind. However, they can be explored in the imagination to their logical conclusion. This exploration is the bedrock of creative writing.
It also has its place in nonfiction. Thinking about a story can uncover underlying assumptions that need clarification and other issues which will ultimately lead to a more interesting, more informative piece. So, take a walk. The imagination is freer to wonder around when the body is as well.
Editing: the Heart of Good Writing
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