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Did you know I have a neice that is a writer? I wish I could do the same thing with words that she does! 🙂 She maintains a blog over at Inkwyrm and I like going over there sporadically, commenting on everything. Nicole often makes me laugh or think, and sometimes even both! I am immensely proud of her. Anyways, we were talking one night about how sometimes she’s writing and she wants a character to go a certain way and it ends up being another way that suits that character better. It’s a struggle to balance the what you want with the what you discover. Anyways, that conversation was recalled to me as I read through this chapter on discovering who you are as you write, that what we write is based on aspects of ourselves.
Writing draws words out of you. Think about it… in every character you write you need to research, watch, learn, discover new things. If you talk about a father figure you will naturally be caused to think about your own father, memories for good or ill. When we write about a best friend, we’ll be drawn back to friendships we’ve had in the past or still presently maintain. Sorrow, heartache, joy, anger … all these things will come from the weal of experience that is our own lives. From what we observe in the folks around us, to the research we do, everything we write comes from something we have interacted with and then somehow make our own as we write.
And so as we write we learn more about ourselves and become more deeply in-tune with who we are. Reading and working through books such as Observe, Collect, Draw are tools we can use to deepen our understanding of ourselves. This process can fuel our thought as we write. Paying attention to our emotions and attitudes as we work, play, or rest. Watching out own interactions with people and the way others interact. Listening to challenging talks, confronting out fears and minding our hopes. All these things feed into our ability to write and share our thoughts with others.
Taking the time to work
…muscles straining, brains thinking, pondering, connecting, being part of a team. Interruptions, people around us, meetings, and smells, sounds, actions taken. All these things become a part of us and therefore part of the world we write about. Observe it and remember it.
Taking time to play
… find whatever it is that you want to do just to have fun, be it playing playdoh with a little buddy, walking a trail, jumping off a cliff (or out of a plane) or rummaging through a thrift store for undiscovered treasures. Listen to the joy of your heart as you play and put that in your writing. Dwell on the sorrow of death, or a hard diagnosis, or job loss.
Whether for an audience of one (yourself) or a larger audience. Give voice to your words, your thoughts, yourself. Become more of yourself as you truly discover who you are. Write as if what you say matters. “Write as if you are dying” Annie Dillard would tell you. Give eloquence to your words, as if they are the last words you’ll ever write and keep writing until they are.
Keep on discovering, discover aspects of yourself you didn’t know, broaden the ones you do know… just keep writing. You’ll make a better you in the end. 🙂
If you would like to follow along I’m reading from this book.