The word “philosophy” means to be a friend of wisdom; to become wiser. In this context, a philosophy of writing refers to understanding and reflecting on your writing, with the goal of improving it. This inevitably entails questioning possible preconceptions and changing your mind.
Let’s start with one such assumption: What is the first image you conjure up when you hear words such as “writer,” “author,” or “writing”? Likely, you would give a description such as “a person using a typewriter,” “a notepad and a pencil,” or “a person using a laptop.”
These are all perfectly valid and understandable responses. We often use such images to convey the concept of writing—indeed, on this very page you are now reading. The thing is, such images focus on writing as an activity, not as a process. In other words, they emphasize those parts of textual production that are related to practicalities: outlining, typing, or editing.
In a way, approaching writing only as an activity—that is, focusing only on its practical aspects—conditions us to forget about what precedes these practical stages. We often talk about the right time to write or how much one should write per day, and for good reason: These are crucial aspects of writing. But they’re not the only ones.Continue reading
Writing during a vacation might initially sound like a great idea: Having a lot of free time, being in a relaxed environment, and enjoying unusual settings must be great for inspiration. And inspiration is good for writing, most authors would agree. But are writing and vacationing really compatible?
As with virtually anything else related to writing, it’s all a matter of balance. There are neither evident answers, nor easy solutions.
For many authors, combining writing and vacationing might connote an image of someone dragging a laptop to the beach, then ignoring everything and everyone around them to focus on writing.
There are several reasons why this might be unproductive, if not fail altogether: Most typically, it would involve ignoring the people you have traveled with. Few things can increase tension more rapidly than ignoring your friend, family, or partner during a vacation.
But even if you’re vacationing alone, this kind of head-on immersion in writing can cause a lot of stress. You’re basically ordering yourself to be productive, setting high expectations: “You’re on vacation, with tons of free time,” the little voice in your head keeps nagging you, “therefore, you must write a lot. No excuses.”
Such scenarios are recipes for disaster. In most cases, you could end up fighting with your loved ones and produce substandard work—if any at all.
But there is good news: It doesn’t have to be this way!Continue reading
Just in case you’re panicking, let me assuage your fears right away: No, it doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to play chess or knit. In fact, when it comes to knitting, to me it appears as something only slightly less complicated than quantum mechanics.
The crux of the matter—and the reason this post is important to any writer looking to improve their craft—is how a seemingly irrelevant activity or hobby can help you with your writing.
In my case, that unexpected source was chess. For someone else, it might be knitting, gardening, playing guitar, or crafting origami.
As I have mentioned in the past about sensory writing exercises, before an author writes about anything at all, they first need to experience the world around them.Continue reading
Any piece of text—be it a novel, a blog post, or a personal essay—is essentially an abstract link connecting a writer (or several of them) with an audience.
Unless the work in question is a highly unique piece of writing, such as an “eyes-only” report meant only for the CEO of a company, the audience is ideally expected to be as large as possible. Who would write the next “great American novel” wanting it to be read by a few hundred people, right?
Even on a more modest scale, blog writers understandably expect their texts to be read by as many people as possible. The same is true also for op-eds or, say, fashion articles.
But are all texts written for everyone?
The answer must be “no.” Whereas a writer of contemporary fiction or a current-affairs journalist probably writes having a fairly general audience in mind, reality is different for many other authors.Continue reading