How can my writing possibly improve if I don’t write? Yes, that’s a contradiction, but what I mean by not writing is don’t only write.
It is common for a writer to consider only writing for a period. It may be when you’re stuck or not seeing return on your investment in writing. It may just be that you’ve heard how isolation has worked for others.
Be warned, however: this romantic ideal of focusing only on writing can limit your perspective.
Every writing great had a unique routine.
For many writing greats, they chose a specific time to wake up and stuck to it. Though the time has varied from writer to writer, what is often the same is the commitment to consistently wake up at a set time.
When they arrive at the writing desk, there is always a destination in mind. This could mean writing two great sentences, as James Joyce aimed for, or not stopping until you reach 2,000 words, like Stephen King.
With a goal in mind, the greats have sat down and done the work. Often, the actual work was only part of the process.
Technology continues to advance exponentially. We now have self-driving cars, full computers in our pockets, and even artificial intelligence capable of writing novels.
Don’t worry, though. As writers, we’re not out of a job … yet.
Right now, AI is capable of writing in the style of Harry Potter and 50 Shades of Grey. A team in Japan passed a literary contest’s first round with a novel co-authored by AI.
There are over 800,000 books on Amazon right now written by AI, and it has even started to produce autonomous niche news stories for companies like Reuters, USA Today, and the Washington Post.
Though AI is able to write its own words, it still has a lot further to go before it makes any bestseller lists.
It’s confirmed. Science has found six core shapes underlying all stories.
At the University of Vermont’s Computational Story Laboratory (CSL), Peter Dodds, Chris Danforth, and their team made the discovery.
The concept of a common story shape is not a new one. Aristotle, in his seminal work Poetics, first discussed the shape of stories in 335 BCE. He wrote about the importance of unity in the beginning, middle, and end of a story, and broke popular examples like Homer’s Odyssey down to their rudimentary parts, revealing a shape found in most Epics and Tragedies.
In 1985, Kurt Vonnegut wrote his master’s thesis on the subject, finding eight shapes that can be easily plotted and replicated. He gives a lecture on the graphs here and there is a friendly infographic here.
These scholars were challenged on their numbers and the simplicity of their theories. The author Georges Polti suggested there are 36 story shapes, and Vonnegut’s thesis was rejected by the University of Chicago.
CSL has now provided the proof. There are six basic shapes to all stories.