How writing feeds your writing…

Many times I have said and  indeed I also read these words: write every day. Of course this isn’t always possible and this past week I’ve had the family here so have not been able to write. It feels all wrong to me when that happens. This is because every day for the past 7/8 years with the exception of weeks like this one, and other holidays I’ve had a complete break from writing. Actually I tend to come back to it more refreshed. But do you really need to write EVERY DAY?

What happens if you don’t … does your head implode? Mine might!

No … of course not. And it really is about what suits your life. But I think if you really want to be a writer, you will do it … because you can not NOT do it. And that’s how I feel but I don’t feel guilty when I can’t, just as if something is missing.

I know a lot of writers. I really do from wearing my different hats, running the Bangor Cellar Writing Group,  as an editor/critiquer, mentor, publisher … etc. It amazes me when members of the writing group talk about procrastinating about writing, how they will find anything not to do it. These are the ones that write to deadlines for competitions, I mean really tight, just about get it done and submitted and then wonder why they don’t get placed. Good writers, but not really committed to it. There’s nothing wrong with this, but if you have serious aspirations about being a professional writer, then you do it because you have to and deadlines are met well in advance (or at least that’s how I am.)

I can really honestly say that I love to write. I approach writing as wonderful and exciting like reading a great novel. Sure it gets tough and sometimes you realise you need  to completely pull it apart, but the rewards of seeing it reform in a new shape are so worth it.

I see myself as more of a novelist even though I’ve had quite a few short stories published and not a novel (yet) and I remember being a little resistant to writing short stories. Of course I quickly saw the error of my ways and realised how writing short stories did several things:

  • Sharpened my writing – word count is a great way to do this — the more you write the easier it is to shape to word count intuitively
  • Focus a story by introducing conflict early, building towards the climactic scene, satisfactory resolution — in other words, learning to create a strong story arc
  • Build a publishing/competition CV
  • Get the creative juices flowing!

I have talked before about how I really wanted to hone this craft, even though I wanted to write my novel. Working for Bridge House meant I was being exposed to so many short stories and I wanted to be qualified to judge these. How could I edit and advise other writers if I didn’t know what really worked. So for two years all I wrote were short stories. The more I wrote, the more I experimented with voice and the better I got. I found my voice. I found my own unique way of writing and I found as I worked on one story, the next was taking shape in my mind.

I really do think the more your write the more those ideas come and in fact, as I have said before, but I will say it again as it is an important point, the short stories often sowed the seeds for a novel and the short story then forms the blueprint to shape the novel, you already have a story arc if you have it in short story form.

An author recently said something that rang true, she said she sees short story successes as releasing singles before you release the album … I like this, I like this a lot. And when I looked at my short story releases and competition successes I realised how I have now released enough singles to feel I can release an album … but I would rather not record it myself but be signed!

Ideas come from all sorts of places and as writers we tend to be like sponges. So don’t force this part of the process. Let the ideas drift into your consciousness and sometimes they do need time to form, to percolate like good coffee and then when you start to write, they come … when the time is right.

A story must have something to say and it seems to me the more I say the more I feel I need to say and so writing feeds writing. Really it does.

Happy writing all …  ENJOY!

So many stories, not enough time ...


Filed under Critique groups, Description, Editing, Exposition, freelancing, How to edit opening chapters, Learning to be a writer, Literary Fiction, MA Creative Writing, Mainstream Fiction, Mentoring, Novel writing, Publishing, Reading, Short Stories, Theme, writing competitions, Writing groups

6 responses to “How writing feeds your writing…

  1. A great posting, Debz!
    What I like about writing a stort story is when you finish it you get to see the whole picture in one go. When you write a novel you have to write a series of little pictures which makes up the overall scene or larger picture.
    With a novel, it’s harder to see the finished picture in one go as takes time and a lots of polishing to finish it as you work through each of the little pictures. This is why I like take a break from my novel to write a short story and have time to enjoy a finished article a lot quicker.

    Must get back to my novel now.

  2. Yes great analogy, a novel is like a series, each part must arc and yet be part of an overall arc. I find it helps to take a break from the novel and explore new voices in short stories. The satisfaction of finishing something comes so much quicker and the rewards, if successful also come so much sooner. I think writing short stories keep the writing sharp! Thanks for the comments 🙂

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  6. I’m just learning the art of short stories, well more flash fiction really, just to get me writing everyday. I found once I started doing NaNo, my writing through the year was dropping off. So far I’ve done thirteen flash fics (sub 1,000 word stories) in thirteen days, got a few hundred more to go as part of a set challenge. i could see myself doing this for quite a long time after, though maybe varying it a bit with some fuller short stories. That said, I’m also doing a longer short story based on one of my flash fics, even as I do the daily challenge.

    So I’m definitely a convert to your advice.

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