Saturday, 26 July 2014

Following my instincts

Writing is difficult, right?

I suppose I better say yes. After all, given that last week I wrote about how writing makes my brain hurt. Seems like I'd be a bit of a hypocrite if I then came out and said the complete opposite. People would start to think I made up these posts on the spot, just to fill in space on my blog.

Well, putting aside the potential truth of the last sentence, I do want to take a slightly different angle today. Writing still is difficult. It still makes my brain hurt. But, despite that, there are often times when it feels like an incredibly natural process. Words just flow out from my mind and onto the page.

At times like that, I begin to wonder if writing is more of an instinctive process. Sometimes, it works best when I don't think too much about it. And to be honest, I'm not particularly schooled as a writer. I haven't read a heap of books on writing, and while I have attended some classes, these have mainly focussed on workshopping material rather than the actual craft of writing.

Are people born with the skill to write? Is it something that just comes naturally? Whenever I think this might be true, I remember how much I've actually read. In some ways, reading a lot of books is the perfect learning tool for learning how to write. Every book (or at last every good book) has been a lesson in how to construct character, how to set scenes, how to deliver dialogue, and all those other aspects of storytelling. Over the years it's sunk in, helping me to become the writer I am today.

So if writing truly is instinctual, it's definitely a learnt instinct. It's from unconsciously absorbing the techniques for writing that you're able to then use them in a manner that feels instinctive.

And whenever I feel like it might be that easy, I get something back from an editor and see how much red there is on the page. That's when I remember that no matter how much I've gained from my reading, there's always a lot still to learn.