If you want to write you’ve gotta read…
They say the new business card is a book and everyone’s writing one. Worse, there’s a whole body of content out there telling you how to do it in five minutes and still be on the golf course by 9 am.
But good writing isn’t that easy. It takes time to find out what you want to say and how to say it. Nuance, tone, voice…simply listening to the rhythm of your sentences takes practice. Sure, there’s lots of advice out there – there’s also a lot of rubbish written – but if you want to explore your creative potential and make something of substance it will take time and thought. And quite often, blood. Good writing isn’t easy – although the trick to good writing is to sound like it is – and that’s where reading comes into its own.
Read good writers. Reread their work till you understand the rhythm of their sentences. Some of the best books I’ve ever read I remember, not because of the story but because of the sound of the language the writers used. Tom Flood, for example. Georgia Blain. These are writers I’d forgotten until recent events reminded me of their work – and it reminded me that good writing lasts forever.
I was preparing for a podcast interview with Fiona Palmer recently – a Western Australian author writing from the southern wheatbelt area of WA – and it reminded me of another author, Tom Flood, who won the Vogel award for Oceana Fine in 1988:
“Oceana Fine is the name of a new strain of wheat – but there is nothing of uniformity in the novel of that name. It sticks up from the plain of naturalism more jagged and more distinctive than a silo. From realism almost to surrealism, this is a novel always original, exciting, different. Go for it! And three cheers for Tom Flood, a new author with ideas and daring!” – Geoffrey Dutton
Ask yourself who you’ll most likely remember in ten years? The guy who churned out a novel in a week or the guy who meticulously worked at his craft to produce the best book he was capable of – the guy who gave blood to make his story live and breathe.
Good stories can happen quickly but most often they don’t. What do you want your stories remembered for? I know my answer and it’s going to take me longer than a week, or a month. I want someone to remember the rhythm of my sentences long after I’m gone – for their rhythm and their beauty – and it’s gunna take me longer than a week to bring my story to life.
I’ve given myself a year – that’s 365 days, 8760 hours and 525,600 minutes – to breathe life into every sentence I write (yeah, I google it:)).
Not everyone wants to write a great novel and that’s okay. But if you’re interested in working with me in 2017 to produce the best novel you can then I’m taking on ten new students in 2017. Two places are already gone so if you’re thinking 2017 is the year you write your dream novel you need to be quick.
I’m launching my mentoring course in the next few days.
Give yourself the gift of a lifetime and write the novel you’ve always wanted to write.
You deserve it!