4. Read. Read. Read.
If you want to be a writer, you need to read. When I took a class from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, the professor told us to write what we like to read. Pick a genre and then read over one hundred books in that genre. Read the classics, the best sellers, your favorite authors, and different historical periods.
Be a curious reader. Read to understand how the plot structure works, Pay attention to the side characters and subplots. Take notes. Try to plot the rise and fall of the suspense. Read to unweave the mystery.
Be an observant reader. Look for the details that tie in later in the book. I am guilty of being a fast reader and sometimes missing minor clues. Drink in the storyline and watch for character nuances.
Be a reader who reads to learn. Gather information about the period you want to write and describe. Pick your favorite time and research topics which leads you to more reading. Knowledge is power.
Be a reader who escapes into the world of fiction and puts behind the worries of the day. Immerse yourself into these beautiful worlds that the author has created.
My best advice to new writers is to read, study, and learn about yourself as a reader. Develop consistent reading habits and goals. You will be a better writer in the long run. Now, I know you have a stack of books next to your bed marked unread. Select one. Find your favorite blanket and find a comfy space to curl up and read. Enjoy!
3. Capture the Feeling
I recently read an article suggesting new bloggers write at least ten blogs before sharing. Writing blogs is a different type of writing. I like the idea of pushing myself as a writer. Writing blogs helps the writer find their authentic voice. The voice that filled the journals of my past, but the fear of allowing others to read my writing was stronger.
I firmly believe that journaling can shape an authentic voice. When you write your thoughts down on paper, you need to be honest with yourself. Capture the feelings, dissect the problem, and get rid of the frustrations holding you back from creating.
Throughout my life, I have journaled. During the ’90s, I followed The Artist Way. This book on creativity suggested writing morning pages: three handwritten pages to clear your mind. I did this off and on for many years never allowing anyone to read so much as a sentence. I have since removed my office of old morning pages. I still enjoy a longhand writing session now and then.
I have also kept many writer’s notebooks and files. I collect ideas, newspaper articles, historical dresses, jewelry pictures. Quotes and character dialogue scatter the pages along with extended family pages of names, birth dates, and ages of all the characters in my novels.
I love my collections of quote books. Throughout the years, I would find various quotes of sayings and copy them down from the source. Sometimes, I would cut with a scissors and tape the actual printed quote into the book along with other memorabilia.
I have a love of new notebooks and Uni-Ball pens. I will buy blank books at TJ Maxx because of the cover or the feel of the journal in my hand. I often buy from the clearance shelves adding one more to my collection.
If you want to live the life of a writer, work every day to polish your writing style. Make an artist date to buy a new notebook and your choice of pens. Start capturing your words as you speak to the paper. The journal is your book of ideas and dreams. Fill it full of inspiration to motivate you towards your next item on your creative bucket list.
Julie M. Granger