The creative imperatives of writing


What matters, when we are writing? What aspects can an author not do without?

A handful of good ideas is a great start, but there is also the requirement to edit, endlessly read and work through a text, ironing out inconsistencies, tangles and plot holes. But apart from the obvious – and often very trying – aspects of working with words, what other less obvious parts of the craft are necessary?

These are my latest discoveries, always subject to change.

~ the ability to envision ourselves writing regularly for the rest of our lives. Typically, I shun the regularity of a three-hour-a-day habit; or even worse, a five-thousand-word-a-day requirement as  ‘shackling my creative flow’. However, I have recently come to appreciate that a regular writing habit offers our characters room to evolve and expand – revealing more of their character traits, their ideas, even their conversational quirks – over time. Since with a regular habit, we take our writing seriously for at least part of every work day – say, Monday to Friday – our work has room and time to expand fully. Given a regular commitment of time and engagement, our writing becomes deeper and more rewarding.

~ the confidence to take writing seriously, so that, even when we are very busy, our writing purpose is honoured for at least some time every day. It might be writing blog posts, or editing a single paragraph of text – or even deciding, after hours of tinkering, that the paragraph in question will have to go – but that kind of self-belief grows wings, and can weather any storm of external busyness.

~ The confidence to finish what we started. No piece of writing, no matter how good, will see the light of day if it remains unfinished. To push past the curse of the soggy middle, to ignore the word-count and push to the finish, no matter how ragged it may be, is, I would say, the single most important part of writing anything – apart from starting, that is. (And actually, finishing is a great deal harder than starting, but don’t tell…)

Speaking as an author who seems to get busier every day, the greatest creative spur I have yet found is the refusal to be beaten; with which the above strategies help me, every day.

Thanks for reading this.

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