Today’s quote about writing:
“All the things we achieve are things we have first imagined and then made happen.”
David Malouf, Australian writer
Imagination is a powerful, essential, elemental, almost organic tool of the writer. It is the driving force behind all writers, especially writers of fiction. Without our imagination our stories cannot take shape, the characters cannot come to life and the plot limps along until either the reader or the writer give it up as a hopeless cause.
But when the writer calls upon an active imagination, the story can soar to wonderful heights, the characters can develop vibrant, energetic lives and the plot grabs the attention of the writer demanding to be written. And when this happens the readers are carried along in that imaginary world of delights and the book cannot be put down. Hopefully it also sells many copies via word of mouth too.
But I wonder if David Malouf was actually thinking along these lines?
Was he instead thinking about dreams and goal setting? It doesn’t really matter for it doesn’t negate what I’ve already written. Dreaming big dreams and setting goals with our writing (and all other areas of life) can result in amazing outcomes. Without dreams and goals we tend to drift through life aimlessly.
Dream big – you might just surprise yourself.
I’ll give you a few examples:
- Imagine holding your first novel in your hands. Feel it, look at it, smell it.
- Dream about the day you sign a three book contract – and the satisfied feeling it engenders.
- Visualise walking across the stage to receive that literary prize.
- Plan and rehearse what you are going to say and do when you launch your first book.
On the last item my wife and I attended a friend’s book launch last year. My wife took detailed notes on what to do and how to run a launch – and she keeps reminding me of this. It spurs me on to get that manuscript finished and off to a publisher.
Make it happen.
“I have tried simply to write the best I can; sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can.” Ernest Hemingway.
I guess countless writers would like to write as well as Hemingway. Many have tried, few have succeeded.
In any endeavour this is an excellent maxim on which to base one’s activities. Always strive to do your best, sometimes you will surprise even yourself.
I guess one could also say that sometimes we get lucky and write really well. I would contend, however, that if we continue to strive to be better writers, and constantly and consistently persist at the craft, that we will improve. I know I have and my readers tell me so. My most demanding reader and critic is my wife; she tells me that I’ve improved out of sight in the last few years. That is encouraging, and it helps me to keep going – and keep improving.
“I would love to write a book, but unfortunately, I don’t have a pen.” (Unknown source – it came to me from a Facebook friend)
We might laugh at a saying like this, but for some people, any simple excuse is enough to stop them from writing. Some common excuses are:
- I don’t have enough time.
- The timing is wrong – I’ll wait until I retire.
- I don’t have a good computer.
- I don’t know what to write about.
- I’m too busy.
- I’m too tired after a day at work.
- I have nowhere where I can write.
- I don’t have a pen.
You get the drift?
Excuses. Excuses. Excuses.
If you want to write a book, you actually have to start putting words down on paper – or at least in the hard-drive of your computer. There is no other way. Books will not write themselves. (Someone reading this in my archives in 50 years time might be able to argue that point, but I won’t be around to defend myself.)
So you want to write a book?
Good. Now stop reading this – and start writing (but don’t forget to come back here tomorrow; I’ll be waiting for you).
- Writing a novel – articles outlining how I went about writing a novel.
- A writer’s virtues: patience and persistence
Over Easter I’m having a short break from writing my novel. This weekend I’ve concentrating on writing numerous posts for my various blogs (see the links on the sidebar). I’m writing these now and dating them to appear on a daily basis for the next few weeks. I often do this as it helps me with my writing.
Once Easter is over I will be very busy on two other projects: finishing the final draft of my novel and preparing to present four sessions at our church camp. I won’t have much time for blogging so I like to get the posts written and have them appearing regularly without having to bother about them. I often do this when I know I’m going to be away for a length of time, especially those times when I might only have limited internet access, for example, when travelling.
There is another benefit. Writing a dozen or more blog posts in one day builds momentum, and before I know it I’ve written five or ten or more. You get in the groove and get very productive. I like that. You can do the same with writing a novel, editing some stories or doing that horrible administrative stuff that writers have to attend to from time to time – like submitting work to publishers.
Must get back to blogging.
Over recent days I have been working hard on editing and rewriting my novel for children. I am going over every word and sentence, making each one earn its place in the finished work. Some words were deleted. Some were added to make the text flow or to add to the meaning.
Yesterday I presented the totally reworked first three chapters to my critique group at university where I am doing my Master of Arts. I thought I almost had these chapters licked, though I did admit I wasn’t entirely happy with the opening chapter. Three of the group had never before read any part of the manuscript, others had read some or all of the earlier drafts. Even after working on the 7th draft, readers still found little things to comment on, and many valuable suggestions for improvement. Is there no end to this process?
That last statement seems very negative. One of the important lessons I have learned during my course and while writing this novel is that I needed to change. I was threatened by the scary prospect of sharing my writing with others. Strange as that idea appears, many writers have this fear. We want our words to be read – but we are often too scared to show them to anyone!
I have learned to welcome my words being read and critiqued by other writers. My precious writing can be scrutinized by others whose eyes are not rose coloured. They can see the good parts and the parts which need improvement, changing or even eliminating. All in a pleasant, constructive way, of course.
Belonging to a writers’ group is an excellent way of improving your writing skills – and your chances of getting published.