11 November 2006

Writing – not a spare-time activity

Scot McKnight has some wise words on writing here. In brief, his blog entry explains why it is impossible to treat writing as something that can be done ‘on the side’. He is writing as an academic theologian for other theologians and academics, but his comments hold true for other kinds of writing. As he says,
writing is a lifestyle, a way of life, a way of being, a modus operandi, a way of breathing and eating and drinking. Better yet, writing is a way of learning, a way of coming to know what someone wants to know, a way of discovering.

Writing is not something to do when everything else is cleared off the desk; no, it is something that makes order of the desk. I don’t get up wondering what I will write about, but I write about what I’m wondering.

What he has to say reminds me strongly of one of my favourite books on the craft of writing, Dorothea Brande’s Becoming a Writer. Unlike most books on the subject, it does not have much to say about plot, characterization, dialogue or description. Nor does it say much about grammar or good English. Instead, Brande focuses on the secret of just getting words onto paper. The book should be compulsory reading for anyone who has ever felt intimidated by a blank sheet of paper or computer screen.

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