In my most recent blog I asked for suggestions for future blog discussions. Several of you posted some really fine ideas and I want to follow up on those for my next several blog entries.
First up is Paula’s concern. She said that she recently received a contract for a novella and “I’m intimidated about discovering how to write with beauty and depth in such a short world count….maybe you could blog about that: layering in beauty and depth no matter what the word count.”
Well, I’ll try, but I’ll also invite others of you to join in with your advice.
When we talk about things like “beauty” and “depth,” in writing, we’re talking about a writing style that touches the reader in a deeper place than most writing. (At least, I assume that’s what Paula means). We’re talking about touches the reader emotionally, too.
Without knowing specifics about Paula’s book, we can only offer general advice and let her apply it to her situation—just as I invite you to do with your writing.
Here, then, are some tips:
1. To write with depth requires reading with depth. Reading with depth will result in thinking more deeply. Thinking deeply should result in writing that’s deeper and richer than if our reading consists solely of The Wall Street Journal and People magazine. Find authors who touch you deeply. Drink often from their well.
2. Train yourself to become a “watcher.” Watch people. Watch nature. Keep your eyes open and translate what you see into mental writing. Mental writing is, of course, the writing we do in our head when we’re not at the computer. Most writers do this daily. They see something and immediately find themselves composing an article or story about it. Sometimes that mental writing will later transfer to a manuscript. Sometimes it’s just an exercise and will be lost forever. But keep doing it.
3. Keep a notebook. Some of my “deepest” insights are thoughts I had two or three years ago on the spur of the moment and which would have been lost forever had I not written them in my notebook. What fun it is to go through one’s notebook and stumble on some thought jotted down several years ago that now sparks a creative urge in you to put that thought in a larger piece of writing.
4. When you down at the computer to begin the day’s work, have at your side some book you deeply love (see number one above). Start the day by typing word for word what that author has written. It will loosen you up before you begin and, hopefully, you will pick up some rhythms from that book that will continue as you begin your work for the day.
That’s all I can think of right now. Perhaps others will add their two cents. And I may chime back in later too, if something more occurs to me.