On writing exercises and notebooks

It was a writing exercise “Describe your childhood bedroom in 300 words” that provided the inspiration for my previous post, Why these sad tears stream – my first attempt at flash fiction – that and my childhood interest in fairies. I had completed the writing exercise in January of this year. It had been required for an application I submitted for a short story writing course. The idea for the fiction piece had, I realise now, been percolating ever since. It took the deadline of the Yeah Write weekly challenge to bring it to fruition.

When I decided to get back to writing for pleasure and to write that novel I had always wanted to write, I read a few books on writing. They all mentioned the benefit of writing exercises and the importance of a writer’s notebook. Until recently I had been sceptical about this, surely writers were born, not made? Surely inspiration would strike them as they went about their daily lives allowing them to sit down and write a book from start to finish, knowing exactly where it would go and how it would end? When I stumbled in my own draft, not knowing which way to go and whether what I had written was actually what I wanted to write, I took fright. Maybe I was not meant to write a novel? Maybe I am not a writer?

I was comforted by the books which said that a first draft was only that. I searched online for articles and author interviews which backed up this idea that no first drafts were perfect, that lots of work had to go into getting a novel ready to be sent to an agent, that stories and characters would often change as the novel writing went on, that some serious cutting and re-writing would need to be done. I took comfort from what I read but I didn’t really believe it. My self doubt made it difficult to continue writing. But something pushed me back to it. Writing a novel has been something I have wanted to do since I was a child. It has been a constant in my life. I can’t remember wanting to be a lawyer when I was at primary school, but I can remember wanting to be an author.

The writing exercise and the fiction that resulted from it have restored my faith, as have the thoughtful comments I received from the Yeah Write writing community. I finally understand what these writers on writing are saying. So I shall keep trying, I shall keep practising and hopefully at some point I’ll finish that novel I always wanted to write, or one like it. Hopefully one day I’ll feel that I can think of myself as an author.

Until then I shall keep on with the writing exercises. I’ll keep filling my notebooks.

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