#5 Writing tip: Writing is not a solitary sport

Writers at Virginia Piper Writing House

Actual writers look like this. Kris Tualla, Tisha Pelletier and Laurie Fagen at the Virginia G. Piper Writer’s House at Arizona State University. ©2010 ANVidean

Picture a writer.

Do you imagine a frazzle-haired, pajama-clad recluse sitting at odd hours and brooding over a computer screen, fiendishly snacking or imbibing caffeine? Perhaps she paces the floor, or maybe bangs her forehead on the desk, until inspiration hits. She might spend long hours taking guidance from characters who “tell her what to write.” She may even pour through defunct manuals explaining all the nitpicky grammatical rules no one pays attention to any more in this day of abbreviating and texting?

Yeah, that’s how the movies depict us. But, in real life, writing isn’t effective in solitary. Great writers get out and explore life, listen to conversations, try out experiences, and share their craft.

Sure we sit in the quiet when we’re actually putting words together, but most of the writing takes place mentally and experientially before we sit down at our computer or notebook. At least it should.

It doesn’t matter if you’re writing fiction, nonfiction, or business memos…input from external sources encouraging emotional phrasing and storytelling gets your words read. Here are some ideas:

• Sit in a coffee shop to listen to conversations and watch mannerisms.

• Try doing something new, perhaps even something your book character or employees do, and note your emotional and mental reactions to include in your writing.

• Join a writing association. It can help you, even if you’re not writing books.

• Meet with a critique partner or group.

• Form your own writing group like my Alliance for Literary Writers, Authors and Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS) tribe.

What do you do to garner input and experiences for your writing?

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