3 things I’ve learned from writing

1. The process of writing means more to me than the finished product.

I’ve gone back to reading several of my old works. Admittedly, some pieces are cringeworthy; others still resonate true today. This comes as no surprise, really. The familiarity of what I’m reading allows me to bypass the story and concentrate on elements of craft. I see things differently than when I first published in 2011.

When I was a non-writing reader, the rules of grammar and punctuation only came to light if I saw an obvious error. Poor sentence structure, the overuse of adverbs, word repetition, etc., were but fleeting impressions.

Now, I’m more focused on how a sentence can be improved upon. This is probably why writers are advised to read — a lot. We feed off and learn from the writing of better authors.

Although completion of a short story, novella, or novel is cause for celebration once it’s published, it is no longer mine. The process of writing is what is important from a learning perspective, and remaining attached to a story after it’s made public serves no purpose.

2. The more I write, the more I learn about others and the less I know about myself.

Writing fiction demands that I look at the world through the lens of others, to inhabit my characters in order write their stories.

By gaining insight into others, I’ve discovered how little I know about myself.

Allow me to explain.

Because I must expand my imagination to write fiction, I sometimes question if it is truly me who comes up with the stories. In the genre of mystery and suspense, I’ve researched by reading a lot of true crime. It’s not surprising I’ve filled my mind with some awful images. That I am also a news junkie only adds to the chaos inside my head.

It’s great for fiction, but not so good for maintaining daily calm.

To stay grounded, I meditate and do yoga. In meditation, all kinds of thoughts come up. I simply observe them, attaching neither good nor bad feelings toward them. Acceptance of these thoughts trains my mind to stay calm and be in the moment. This translates to a more easygoing manner outside of meditation, and hopefully, more awareness.

Yoga serves to strengthen my physical being, which is intimately connected to the mind.

To create believable characters, it’s necessary to nurture them to behave in a way that might be contrary to my own behaviour. The important thing is staying true to myself when I’m not in my fictional world.

3. Writing can be all encompassing.

Writing absorbs me when I’m “in the zone.” At these times, I don’t need food or sleep, and I avoid all distractions. My only purpose is to ride the creative wave for as long as it will take me and as far as it will go.

It doesn’t happen too often, but it’s an amazing feeling when it does.

+++

What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from writing? Please feel free to share. 🙂

XX

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59 Comments

Filed under Craft of Writing

59 responses to “3 things I’ve learned from writing

  1. Reblogged this on dave94015 and commented:
    Does the process of #writing…change the thinking of authors?

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Meditation can help you become detached from day-to-day thoughts, a detachment that will allow a free-flow of character development that might differ from your own. Creatives sometimes call this “transcendence”.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Dave, transcendence is also a possibility. What I practice does not detach me from thoughts as much as to simply observe them. In meditation, ideas do spring up for stories. My problem is to remember to write them down immediately afterward or I forget 😉

      Like

  3. have you ever felt edgy
    and it seems the only thing that will make you feel better or calm down is to write?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I had never thought about what a fiction writer goes through in developing her characters, that’s so interesting.
    I love that feeling of being in the zone as well. I have that with so many of the creative endeavors I do, writing, painting, gardening. It’s almost a form of meditation.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. When writing the process isn’t just sitting at the desk. It encompasses my waking hours, no matter what I’m doing, and in my dreams working out the plot. I love this post, Eden!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dannie! So great to see you here. I agree writing does not just occur at the desk. That’s why I believe some of the best authors are simply keen observers of life who also have the skill to put those observations on paper. xox

      Like

  6. suenador

    Hi Eden! I am still learning many lessons but I agree that it is so important to build in time for things like yoga. Things do get very noisy in my head as well and the time away from my keyboard often results in a better outcome later. I also think having a trusted person or people to read drafts and who are not afraid to be honest has been helpful to me. I feel I am more open to feedback and rejection now than when I first started to write. I didn’t know what I didn’t know and could be defensive of criticism. I also read more critically than I used to and try to dissect why I like a piece of writing and how the author engaged me. I do go back to read earlier work from time to time because it’s a good benchmark of how I have improved which is motivational! Even though I know how much better I can continue to be! xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great point about having someone you trust to read over your drafts, Sue. What I didn’t know about writing when I started could fill an ocean. Agree it’s about accepting constructive criticism and realizing that every piece offers an opportunity to improve.

      Thank you for commenting! xo

      Like

  7. It’s true- you look at your early writing that you were just doing for yourself and you think, “geez, what was I thinking?”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve learned so much I wouldn’t be able to articulate it. Mostly, I learn from observing people like you. Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I find my self watching more…paying attention more and make mental and written notes about those observations. I feel more connected to where I am, what I’m doing and what’s going on around me. Drives my kids nuts. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Great post. I can relate to feeling completely engaged and in a different world when I’m writing, as if nothing can touch me. It can be very cathartic and a great way to express your thoughts and feelings. Thank you for posting this. Keep writing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I can certainly relate when you say the reading experience differs when one is a writer (or an aspiring one in my case 🙂).
    And yes, “the zone” 😌…

    Liked by 1 person

  12. For me writing is like a therapy. I discovered not so long ago, that when I don’t write on regular basis I just feel uninspired, exhausted and lost within myself. Writing makes me understand myself more!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. #1 is so true. I looked at my first draft that I sent to my editor and thought to myself = How can I just sent this out; that is the worst piece of sh*t I have ever written.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I enjoyed reading your musings on being a writer. I find that writing as an act of meditation is a helpful tool for me to progress. For the longest time, I have been held back by the fear of imperfection, so I have been training myself to be in the present state when I write (and also to void thinking about how it compares to others’ completed works).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Clint, Great points. Like you, imperfection creates a certain sense of fear in me. I’ve tried not to let this paralyze me but it has at times. What helps is the realization that every day is a new one. If I meet my writing goals for the day, then I feel a sense of accomplishment. Comparison to others is helpful only as a learning vehicle.

      Appreciate your comment. 🙂 eden

      Like

  15. I really need writing in my life it helps so much deal with issues and dramas . When I’m really down ,writing barely relieves my pain and make me more calm .I learned to see the world from a different sight

    Liked by 1 person

  16. hi eden the thing which you have shared is very much beneficial for the beginners like me. i have recently made the blog site & confused on how to write you work helped me a lot..

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Sageful insight. Totally agree. The written word is so special.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I agree writing is more like getting connected with self…and here by writing I mean, ‘writing’ and not typing. It also helps you focus on ones thoughts, the neater the handwriting , the more clear your thoughts are !

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Love this post so much! I have only engaged in reading so much this summer, from autobiographies to a meaningful story which reflects on similarities in my own life. I am hoping that by reading it will help me with structuring my sentences a lot more in my final year at university. Also the fact that a book, text or blog can take you away from the world for a little while is a sense of relief at times. I look forward to reading more of your posts!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Hi Eden–as a new blogger, I feel like this is my getting-my-feet-wet phase toward my ultimate goal of publishing fiction. I hope it is effective, as the hardest part for me–I believe–will be to just get started. How do you break through that wall? Or is that the subject for another post?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi NoVa-SoCal, thanks for your comment. I think you’ve started just by reading blogs about writing. 🙂

      Blogging and writing (for the purpose of publishing or not) are not mutually exclusive. I did them at the same time. Blogging is a way of promoting your work and your writing style. I started out by writing erotica and moved into suspense from a publishing standpoint, but my blog is about more than just writing. Mondays, I feature music because I’m a music fan. Other topics include travel, special events I’m involved in, and more. The craft of writing is something I haven’t blogged about in a long time. I aim to change that shortly. It appears these blogs get the most engagement for me.

      Use blogging as an important tool to invite readers into your writing life. The important thing is to not just make it about selling your books. Tell readers about what inspires you, who are you, what do you love?

      When I started, many readers came to my blog long before they ever bought any of my books.

      As for breaking down walls …. Just sit your ass down in a chair and write. There is no panacea. Write toward your WIP each and every day, whether you feel like it or not (especially when you don’t feel like it). It’s a discipline that has to be honed over time, and the only way to do this is by DOING, not by thinking about it, not by talking about it, but by DOING it.

      Over time, you will be able to write more each day, and it will become a habit.

      Wishing you success,
      eden
      xo

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Pingback: Monday musings: Three things's I've learned from writing - Best Selling Reads

  22. This is wonderful, Eden! I love when you post about your love for writing. Funny, because I use the same word “cringeworthy” to describe how it feels to read my old work. A good sign that we have grown up as writers.

    I feel you on #2—obviously because of the mediation and yoga part. But also, my WIP is dystopian and pretty dark, so I’ve been immersed in an unpleasant fictional land for two years. Almost finished, then I can set her free. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I loved these points, especially the second one- I could really relate to it and know exactly where you’re coming from. When I write stories (often exploring romance or relationships overall), some characters are so different from myself I feel disconnected from the self image I hold.

    For example, if I’m writing about an abusive parent or a rapist, I have to still explore that character and where this character is coming from, despite my dislike for that character.

    And for some reason, even if it’s fiction, I feel horrible- absolutely horrible- for the content I’m putting on paper. It feels real to me, and I immerse myself so deeply in these stories I write (which isn’t always a good thing) that I find it difficult to understand my values and who I am as a person. “How could I even think of that happening,” I often wonder while writing.

    “Am I sick in the head,” “Does this pop up in most people’s heads or is it just me,” “Is it right or wrong for me to feel empathy for such an evil character,” and so on. These are all things I struggle with from time to time when writing.

    Thank you so, so much for sharing. I just followed and am looking forward to more of your posts. This was quite accurate and I’m glad someone put my feelings into words. 🙂

    xoxo
    Angie
    angieyhsim.wordpress.com

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Hi Angie,

    Thank you for the epic comment!

    The question of: “Am I sick in the head?” has come up for me too. If law enforcement were to do an audit of the search activity on my computer, they would likely arrest me for any number of crimes. 😀

    I think it’s important to note that research is just that — research. It’s learning about people and situations however we can, and it is certainly easier now with the Internet. That you should feel your characters’ pain because of the situations you put them through is a sign of your passion for your writing.
    Unless you are writing fairies and unicorns, you will need to explore unlikeable characters who do despicable things. It’s a reflection of life, so it needs to be told in an authentic way. The angst you feel is part of the process of getting into these characters’ heads.

    I don’t always admit it, but I still cry when I read some of my more sentimental work. And you’d think I should know what is coming up next, so I’d be prepared not to cry!

    I don’t write on writing too often but it does seem to be a popular topic for my blog. You can find more under the category “Craft of Writing.”

    So lovely meeting you,
    xox
    eden

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I totally agree that reading is important for a writer. I love what you said that when you were a non-writer reader, you glanced over the lesser of the grammatical errors. I am the same. I love to read, and because I write now, I see things my mind never would have before. I get to learn from my favorite authors just by reading them. It’s like my mind is changing. I still read for pleasure, but I am now reading for craft as well, even if I don’t realize it. Thank you for this.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Thanks for your comment Brandon, really appreciate your stopping by. xo
    eden

    Like

  27. I absolutely love this post, great work!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Thank you Charlotte for reading 🙂 xo
    eden

    Like

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