Thursday, June 24, 2010

Reading About Writing

I just finished and sent to the publisher my latest manuscript and found myself with unreserved reading time (a rare commodity these days). I decided to improve my writing skills so I picked up some books about the craft (much to my editor's good pleasure I'm sure).

I'm reading On Writing by Stephen King. I'm still waiting for a green glow and the evil clown to show up, but it isn't that sort of book. I've chuckled out loud several times while reading it but also doubted myself as a true writer more than a few. I want to go back and read some of my books and realize what I could have done better (now that would be a true horror story).

Someone asked Stephen King how he writes. His answer was, "One word at a time." I guess that is also how we get better as word at a time.

It is fascinating to read how other people write. I have much to learn. I need to find a steady balance between my travel, ministry, home and writing. I am not a very methodical person, so my balance will be different from others. So far, my writing pattern seems to be seasonal: summer and winter for writing, fall and spring for travel.

One of the strange things I have noticed is that I can't seem to write another book in the same place that I have already written one. I can tell you each place that my books were predominantly written and no two share the same space. It is like I draw a creative energy from the environment and it begins to reflect that book's unique personality, so when I try to write there again it doesn't work. I am just now discovering this, but of course that is something you wouldn't learn until you'd written a few books. I've written six so far (three other resources I've created are more like curriculum--those I can do anywhere). Imagine the difficulty of finding a new place if I wrote books as often as Stephen King! Considering my wife redesigned my eldest daughter's bedroom into a home office for me to write in after she moved out, this is a problem for even a writer with my own output. After Church 3.0 was done I haven't been able to write in the office again (save for blog posts and emails). Maybe I need to get over this idiosyncrasy and force myself to write in the same place. Perhaps this is just a rookie issue that can be overcome as a more seasoned writer. I wonder, does anyone else have this same little challenge? Any other theories about it?

Other books I am reading are: The Elements of Style by Strunk and White (a classic all should read several times over), The Elements of Story by Flaherty (which I think I will turn to often as a resource) and The Art and Craft of Storytelling by Lamb.


Dan said...

King's book is on my shelf right next to me, which I reserve for books on writing. One of my favorites is "The Rock that is Higher: Story as Truth" by Madeline L'Engle. It mixes writing and spirituality.

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