Julie's Quest

Hello, and welcome to my blog. My blog is about the trials and tribulations of writing, where we celebrate successes and commiserate our near misses. We tell it like it is here and will do our very best to help you on the road to being published and pick you up after the rejections (they will come!) Whether you are a professional or amateur writer you will find something useful here.

I hope you enjoy reading my posts and will visit again soon.

Happy Writing

Julie Phillips - freelance writer - member of the Association of Freelance Writers - member of the Society of Authors

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Eyes wide open

Part of a writer's job is to be observant. They need to be nosey and look at the finer details at what is going on around them - details that non-writers often miss. For writers, and other creative souls for that matter, the beauty is in the detail. They don't just want to write about a car they want a sleek, cherry red Porsche. They don't just see a person, they see the subtle peppering of silver-grey hiding in the wave of the hair as she pushes the stray strand behind her ears. They look beyond the obvious and the surface to find the extraordinary out of the ordinary.

While I was away at camp I'd taken my binoculars with me and was about to go to bed when I noticed that I could see the stars. The camp was quiet and dark so I looked at the stars through the binoculars and was amazed. Where I could see just three or four stars with my naked eye, with the binoculars I could see many, many, more. It was as though the whole sky was a carpet of sparkles. I don't know why I was so surprised by this as I already know there are billions upon billions of stars out there. But living in a town blighted with light pollution, it's not until I get to the countryside, in the middle of a field, where it is pitch black that I noticed all the stars that have previously been hidden to me.

So, as a writer, it made me realise that I need to gain different perspectives and look deeper into things so I can rediscover my writing in new ways. We all become stuck in our ways, sometimes, and in order for us to move forward we need to look at things from a new vantage point and un-stick ourselves.

Today, for instance, I noticed a silver birch tree at the top of the road where I live flexing in the wind. It was quite an alarming sight watching the tip of the tree bend so far down and then spring back up again without snapping in half or crashing into the roof of the house. And that made me realise that one of the problems with writers is that we sometimes become inflexible. We justify our rigidness by telling ourselves and anyone else who will listen that this is the way we've always done it and so it will always be: we always set our stories out in this was, or we always plan our novels in that way. We become unwilling to see other ways of doing things. At the slightest bit of pressure or criticism we refuse to bend with it and we break.  But do our methods get us anywhere? That's the question I've been asking myself a lot of recently.

Taking a step back and reviewing how we write is an important step in our writing lives. We do it in other areas of our lives, ie, after we get made redundant, after a row, etc, so why not adopt that approach with our writing? We need to evaluate what works and what doesn't in our writing. What can we do better? That editor said no, or that editor didn't reply - so where can I go next with my writing? Is it time to rest that project and go with another for a while so that I can come back to the resting project later, with fresh eyes? What do I need to do to make this work and what can I do to reduce the risk of rejections?

Have a look at the writing projects and ask these questions of them. If we can evaluate and appraise our own work with honesty and openness, it may be painful but it will mean that we will have learnt from our mistakes and can move our writing forward, closer to publication.

Happy scrutinising!



Pat Posner said...

Hooray. My new computer lets me post on your blog - had trouble with the old 'puter program.

It's a great post, Julie, very thought-provoking.


Julie P said...

Hi, Pat. Thank you! I'm glad your new puter is putering well!

Julie xx

susanjanejones said...

Great post Julie, standing back, I realise now, I write too fast, as that's how I live my life. Rushing to get to the point instead of flowering it up and having the characters taking time to walk down the path, bending to pick up a weed or two. I have them down the path out of the gate and gone, all in three seconds. So, knowing our mistkes is the first step to correcting them. Love your posts.

Julie P said...

Life rushes past us doesn't it and we have no choice, sometimes, but to be swept along with it, Susan! But I think by trying to slow down our thought processes actually helps our creativity - here's to slowing down and enjoying the moment.
Julie xx