Today I blew off my writing group. Before the berating begins, I have good reasons (good writing reasons) and a goal in mind for the evening. Tonight I’m going to spend the evening on a proof-read of Riveted; getting it is ready for my second reader.
Life has been rather busy in the last few weeks so I’m behind on my writing goals (and bone tired). So rather than going to writing group, reading out loud and then staying up too late, I will be reading out loud at home. Does that sound strange?
Reading out loud in a public place like a writing group helps me with my bravery (putting myself and my writing out there for public critique), but reading out loud alone is also helpful. When I proof-read quietly I miss errors. My eyes read the words on the page but when they encounter a spelling error or a missing word, my mind often makes the correction for me. (Helpful for reading, not so helpful when I am trying to proof-read.) However, when I read out loud all the errors seem to magnify and suddenly I am a mistake-finding machine.
Hopefully by the end of the evening I will have half the draft read and a huge list of errors to correct. Wish me luck.
Writing is usually a very quiet and solitary experience. The words creep out of our mind then appear on the page without ever touching the air. This can be great for diving into your right-brain (creativity, emotions…). But it can also be a challenge for writers who are verbal (like me). I talk. I talk a lot.
The part of our brain that controls thought formation into speech is the left front bit. It is also the part of the brain that controls logic, control and precision…essentially the skills we need to take our writing from a creative stream of thought, into a product someone will want to read and hopefully buy. When we speak we are activating a different part of our brain then when we sit alone and write.
So for this exercise put your pen down. Grab a recording device (your cell phone, a tape deck, whatever you have) and take ten minutes to tell yourself a story. It may sound silly when you start (I recommend a quiet room at home rather than a coffee shop) but beat back your inhibitions. No one is listening but you and the result may be something your right brain would never have thought of.
NB. The picture from today’s post is a digger from a local building demolition site. I was mesmerized watching it repeatedly pick up and drop a huge boulder. The machine operator was using the rock to crush a pile of re-bar. It was funny and impressive at the same time; the power and finesse of construction machinery is very strange.