Friday, April 12, 2013

Writerly Advice for the Everyday.

I've been thinking lately about the advice given to writers and how that advice might just be as relevant for everyday living as for turning dreams of a book into reality.

Consider, for example, the old, repeated advice 'If you want to write, you have to write. Write, write, write!'  If we translated this into advice for the everyday it might read like this: 'If you want to live you have to live. Live, live live!" 
Writers know that in order to get a novel or research project completed they need to focus and diligently choose to work, put the words down as best they can, a little bit each day. In life it is similar. There are so many distractions fighting for our attention but we need to remember what sort of life we want to live and seek to live that purposefully. It would be sad to reach the end of another year and realise the life we wanted (be it a slower pace, more attention given to the kids, a trip to The Centre) hadn't been realised because of many insignificant interruptions and misplaced priorities.  We need to choose to live, and then actually do it.

Another piece of writerly advice that could be translated for the everyday is: 'Seek opportunities to richly observe the world'. The less polite version of this has been 'Eaves-drop whenever you can'.
The creative mind needs opportunities to absorb information as well as time to engage in the process of creation. The result will be richer writing, full of diverse imagery and unique feeling. Life is very similar. If we are not careful we can go about our day to day ignoring the beauty and interest around us. I remember it clearly from my time living in Nepal, how easy it was to reside within eyesight of the magnificent Himalayas and literally forget to look at them! How important is it for us to keep seeing the world around us? To notice the beauty, the pain, the faces, the needs all allows us to interact with life more meaningfully. And, again, it is a deliberate choice we need to make.

Writers prioritise, plan and make careful decisions in order to improve their craft, but if our lives themselves are a form of creative expression (Ephesians 2:10) how much more should we be alert to opportunities to live each day deliberately and with purpose!

Penny Reeve is a children's author based in Western Sydney. She enjoys sharing her love of writing, books and story with children of all ages. Visit her website for more information or 'like'  her page on facebook.  





14 comments:

  1. A great post Penny. I agree that the creative process can help us to really see things around us. Some years ago, I did some painting classes and after that it was amazing how I started to notice different tones of colour all around me. Before that I thought trees had brown trunks and green leaves and that clouds were white, grey, or black. When you really stop to look, there are a myriad of tones that we miss. Thanks for the reminder to really notice what's around us in life as well as during the creative process.

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    1. I've noticed a similar thing, Nola, when I took a brief drawing class.
      The trick is to hold onto that new way of seeing and not slip back into the ordinary.

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  2. Thanks for the reminder again Penny, that each day brings its distractions and also its opportunities to see what's around us - to be inspired or to be drawn off course - this is the question. I find it quite a challenge at the moment. It's good to be encouraged.

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    1. It is a bit of an ongoing struggle isn't it, Carol. And I think different days bring a different emphasis. I find the occasional encouraging reminder to keep my priorities in check really useful - glad to have been an encouragement today.

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  3. Great post Penny - with good tips both for writers and about living.

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  4. We have to live purposefully. Thanks for the reminder. :)

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    1. Yep - and some of that purpose is to enjoy what God has placed around us and turn it back to praise. Something that is so easily squeezed form a busy schedule.

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  5. Thanks for your wise words Penny. This year I spent 5 weeks seeking God's plans for me as I considered a job offer. It bothered me that I felt writing was my primary calling - and wondered whether I'd do the other job well because of that fact. God showed me that His primary calling to me (apart from prayer) is to bless my world. Both my writing and my new job will help me do that. So both 1) writing and 2) caring for folks (through my new job) go side by side. It was a Eureka moment. And that's what you reiterate too - about living life intentionally - as we write intentionally.

    Thanks Penny,
    Anusha

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    1. I know I've found your particular story quite encouraging Anusha - so thank you for the many ways you share it with us.

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  6. This is a very real issue in a fast Internet world. Great article Penny.

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