One always has a better book in one’s mind than one can manage to get onto paper. –Michael Cunningham
So, I have this amazing idea in my head that I keep attempting to put down on paper but it’s just not coming out right. I find myself wishing I had one of those old typewriters that I could angrily rip the paper out of and crumple it up before tossing it in the trash. After some reflection I’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps part of the issue is a lack of a good writing foundation.
For those of you who don’t know, I went to college for performing arts. With an acting and directing emphasis I loved being thrown into a story and finding ways to communicate it to audience. But I didn’t have any classes on writing, besides one playwriting class. And since I was a Liberal Arts major I didn’t need to take any Liberal Arts electives, like English, due to the fact that my core classes covered that. So when you think about it, I probably haven’t had an English class since high school and you can imagine how long that’s been. I’ll give you a hint, my ten year class reunion was last year. I decided that I was lacking in the area of technique and style and more than a little rusty when it came to basic English grammar.
The one good thing I have is the fact that I’m a reader and therefore can recognize bad writing when I see it. So I’m stuck. This has been the frustrating cycle over the last week, me rewriting something a hundred times because the idea in my head just can’t eloquently make it onto the page. So for the next week I decided to open Katelyn’s School of Writing and step back from writing a novel to first learn how to write a novel. This means a giant increase in my reading this week so to give you an idea here’s my line up:
* McGraw Hill’s Essentials of English Grammar
* Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card
* How to Read Literature Like A Professor by Thomas C. Foster
* Creating Characters By The Editors of Writers Digest
Now, obviously I’m not going to be able to finish all of these cover to cover in the next week because I’m also reading the second book to Rebel of the Sands. Also, I’m human and work full time. But I’m not looking to just read them. What I’m really wanting to do is pick them apart and find good advice to apply to my project. Eventually, I will make my way through all of them but for now the goal is to learn as much as I can before jumping back into my own writing. There are other books like these on my shelf that I will continue to read as this project moves along in order to further my education and writing technique. But I felt this was a good starting point.
I believe it’s important to remember, in any area in life, that furthering your education is essential. Albert Einstein said, “once you stop learning, you start dying.” And I agree. We cannot fulfill our full potential if we’re naive enough to believe that we know everything already. There is no growth in ignorance. So I’m going to stop pretending I know more than I do and learn from the experts instead. Perhaps this will make things a little easier once I sit back down in front of my keyboard to begin again.
Are you feeling confident in what you know? Is there an area in your life that you feel like you could improve by learning a little bit more? Don’t be afraid of knowledge. Absorb as much as you can and allow it to propel you into the next stage of your life. The possibilities are infinite.
Until next time, here is an inspirational quote to keep you going:
“If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.” – Zig Ziglar
Don't forget to check out my take on my Read of the Week: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton!