A few weeks ago, I jotted down some writing advice and began posting it on this blog. As with other “great ideas,” I got sidetracked by other interests, topics, and goings-on. Tonight, however, I’m going to share a couple of additional writing tips. You might be wondering why you should take my advice when I don’t have any fame or notoriety. I have, however, read the work s and the advice of those who do.
Prior posts on this topic have mentioned the importance of reading, learning all you can about the craft and mechanics of writing, and finding a group of writer friends. About the latter, yesterday I read an advice column in which a writer was whining about the fact that no one wanted to read the novel he was writing. The columnist advised him to join a writers’ group because one of the things members do is critique each other’s work. I once read that Stephen King’s wife is his “first reader,” but most writers don’t have spouses with the know-how and expertise that she does. Writers need other writers to offer support.
Today’s tips are to become mindful and to always carry something to write with and on. Being mindful means noticing things around you, becoming observant of all the sights, sounds, smells, and impressions in the environment. I think it also means becoming more self-aware. What are you thinking? Feeling?
Being intentional about mindfulness is key. Otherwise, the day is gone, and you might not have noticed the thunder (Was it loud? Rolling? Sharp?). In a few minutes’ walk on the beach last week, I became deliberately conscious of the different textures of sand as I walked along the strand. There was wet, squishy sand near the ocean and soft, dry, hot, dusty sand near the dunes. In-between was hard packed sand, the kind that’s easiest to walk on.
The azure sky was so beautifully blue that it looked almost artificial, especially with the huge white clouds perched in front of it. I sauntered along feeling a gentle breeze on my skin as I observed the glistening sun on the ocean. “Looks like diamonds,” my daughter said. And always, there was the sound of the sea, the constant, steady roar of the ocean. Other sounds were the loud chirping cicadas, the squeals of delighted children, and occasional sound of airplanes heading out to faraway places.
Walking back to my car after an hour on the beach, I marveled once again at the profusion of tiny orange flowers on either side of the boardwalk. I rinsed my feet, shoes, and chair in the showers provided on the way to the parking area and reveled in the feel of the cool, refreshing H2O. Looking up, I spotted a family stacking and stocking food on a picnic table as the father set up the grill. Ah, summertime! Sure glad I was mindful enough to note all of the above.
I’m also glad that I had a small pink notebook in the car so that I could record the above sensations before I forgot them. Otherwise, I’d have probably forgotten how the sounds of the ocean roar and the cicadas chirping were competing with each other. Some people prefer keeping notes on their phone. To each her own. The important thing is to have a way to jot down thoughts and impressions as they occur.
Close the door is tip number 9, and tomorrow I plan to follow my own advice and do just that so that I can finish my list and begin working on some other projects.