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studying music

What I Learned About Writing From Studying Music

I was one of those kids who had to stay inside to practice the piano, who got to take time off from school for competitions, and took music theory exams on my own time.

Was I always thrilled to be doing this? Nope! But am I glad I did? Absolutely.

It wasn’t until my love-hate relationship with playing instruments settled firmly on “love” that I realized that having studied music for years taught me some valuable life lessons, including ones that can be applied to my writing.

This is what I learned about writing from studying music.

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How To Break the Rules of Writing (And Why)

One of the reasons I’m so fascinated by writing is because it’s a very ambiguous, multifaceted process containing many seemingly opposite elements.

It’s chaotic, like any creative effort, yet it is also structured in order for the creative chaos to be decipherable by an audience. It is abstract, beginning with a blank page and ideas floating in the writer’s mind, yet it becomes specific along the way.

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What Is Writing Patience Lessons From a Typewriter

What Is Writing Patience: Lessons From a Typewriter

One afternoon, while typing an important scene for my novel, I ran out of ink. I had to drop everything, get into the car, and drive through heavy snowfall, to reach the closest store that had a compatible ink ribbon for the typewriter. It was a one-hour drive to get there and another hour to come back.

In the meantime, I had the chance to reflect on the scene that I was writing a bit more. Particularly, I had the chance to think about it in a different environment—there is something inspiring about driving through snowfall during the late afternoon, with the sky becoming progressively darker.

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studying a second language

What Studying a Second Language Taught Me About Writing

It can be difficult enough to find ample time to write between work, chores, exercise, and a million other little things that take up my day. Studying a second language on top of all these things only makes it more difficult.

For a little background, I moved from the U.K. to Finland in 2014 so my husband could study for a master’s degree in his home country. Since then, I have been studying the Finnish language on a near-daily basis in hopes of eventually gaining citizenship.

My only previous experience with foreign languages is obligatory French classes in school over 10 years ago, so it has been a real challenge to take on one of the more difficult European languages. I once heard somebody describe Finnish as “drunken elvish,” which is an accurate description. For instance, the Finnish phrase for “goodnight” is “hyvää yö,” which is pronounced as “hoover ooh-oh,” and difficult for me to get out.

Being a professional writer has only made it harder, since the English language is such an important part of my job. It can be incredibly jarring to go from writing in English to learning how an entirely different language works.

Although my studies have reduced the amount of time I would ideally like to spend writing each day, and it is a challenge to try and perfect two entirely different languages at the same time, in some ways it has been a surprising benefit to my writing. I’ve also noticed that many of the rules of language learning can also be applied to writing.

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