How Do Writers Learn, Purge And Know What Their Book Is About?

by Kimberly A. Cook              (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

Met with my writer support group this past weekend and it always makes me feel better, more motivated and not quite so neurotic. We creatives have challenges on many levels when it comes to combining life and art.

There were three topics which came up that I thought it would be fun to discuss. Here goes.

1. We don’t learn a writing or life lesson until we are ready; no matter how many times it tries to smack us in the chops.  An experienced writer declared she made a breakthrough with her current memoir when she realized who her ideal reader would be and that she was actually writing a long feature story. A trained news journalist and business writer, this shift in mind revelation made all the difference in the world when she was able to discover it.

When I crossed over from newspaper writing to fiction, it seemed pretty easy for me since I had been the features section editor on the paper. Feature stories are some of the best training in the world for fiction since your story lives and dies with quotes (dialogue), you have a beginning, middle and end of the feature (same as a chapter and book), and the one difference is instead of tying up the end of the story, you put a honk’in hook at the end to drag the reader into the next chapter. My fiction chapters have always been about the same length as a long feature story, imagine that.

2. Is cleaning our offices and purging files procrastination or part of the creative process? Yes! Right on both counts. But we decided as a group that its more of the process for organizing chaos and letting your muse get ready to sweep out the cobwebs in the subconscious and gear up for the next project. Now if this takes years, there is a bit of a procrastination problem, but it took Margaret Mitchell twelve years to write “Gone With The Wind,” so what do we know about deadlines? To each writer their own process.

3. Only the writer/author knows what the story is going to be and that may be a crap shoot on any given day. My writing teacher Dee Lopez used to say,” No one really knows what their book is about until after they’ve written at least eight chapters.” Many times what you find when you finish a first draft of fiction is it started out as one book and ended up as another; that is the magic of imagination, fairy dust and creation. Which also means no one else can write your book for you, you have to do it yourself.

So, back to writing!


1 Comment

Filed under Creativity

One response to “How Do Writers Learn, Purge And Know What Their Book Is About?

  1. Just finished purging files for tax time…not in my office, but cobwebs are cobwebs! “Write freely and with feeling” is tattooed on my brain, but I forgot Dee’s eight-chapter saying. Thank you for the reminder. 🙂

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