Wednesday, February 3, 2016

IWSG: Blank Paper in My Handbag

Today is IWSG day, an online writers meetup started by Alex Cavanaugh that happens on the first Wednesday of the month. Today we writers share our insecurities, thoughts, and other stuff going on in our lives. Today, I don't have an insecurity to share, just some thoughts.

When I was a freshman in college, I had to read a book for a class about writing. The author would share stuff, like how she carries paper with her everywhere because she never knows when inspiration would hit and how she must write those idea gems down before she forgets them. Although the book is a well-reviewed writing book, I remember finishing the book back then feeling uninspired by much of the writing advice. 

In past years, I find I've been carrying more blank paper in my handbag to jot down notes about stuff I could work into my fiction. I know many writers do this already but I still attribute this habit to the book I read back in college. It's a small habit to keep, but a useful one. It's interesting how advice I discarded years ago has come in handy once I realized what I needed to do (not what I wanted to do) to become a published author. 

I wonder if I might come away with more if I were to read that writing book again, now as an adult. 

What writing advice have you once discarded that you later adopted? What writing books do you like? 

24 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You might glean more from it now that you are a writer.
Save the Cat is still my favorite writing book. The fifteen beats really stick with me.

odell01 said...

I think you have a great blog post here. The writing advice that at one time I discarded only later to adopt is that I should not write with the intention to be highly competitive. I get more satisfaction if I permit myself the luxury of being real and easygoing. Writing books I like include You are a Writer by Jeff Goins and nineteen nineties' favourite The Celestine Prophecy, which offers a unique kind of guidance for just about anyone, but focusing on lost "insights" that provide for the new age. Good luck with the writing that you do.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I'm a huge fan of King's ON WRITING. I also really like the craft books by Donald Maass. And Elizabeth Gilbert's recent book on creativity, BIG MAGIC, is wonderful!

Pat Hatt said...

Seems things do become more relevant when in need of the relevance haha

Christine Rains said...

That is a great habit to keep! My favorite book on writing is Les Edgerton's Hooked. Really great stuff for the beginning of your story.

Brandon Ax said...

I watch youtube all the time for writing advice from my favorite authors. besides that I don't think I have read a book on it. I think some advice I follow more now it the beta reader. I used to never want others to read my stuff and would just send it off. Now I like the feedback.

Juneta Key said...

I am passionate about reading about the writing craft. My book collection hardback and digital is large. Here is a link to a list of some of my favorites http://wp.me/p43o8U-1IS However, if I had to name three 1) The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writer’s third edition, by Christopher Vogler 2)Elements of Fiction Series: Descriptions by Monica Woods from 1999 3) Hooked by Les Edgeton

I have tab on my blog For Writers which has links to articles, books, gadgets and software that are helpful to authors. I suppose it is another one of my collections.

Juneta Writer's Gambit

S.P. Bowers said...

Interesting thoughts. There are writing books that I've found are more instructional, plot, pacing, beginnings, etc. And books that are more motivational, finding idea, starting routines, how to work through blocks. Sounds like the book you read was the second type. I don't know if I've ever gone back and looked at books to see what I've changed my mind on. I do believe we can get something out of every book, but I do believe some books are more helpful than others, depending on what we need.

Shell Flower said...

These days folks use their phones to jot down notes or even voice memos. I'm more of a paper kind of girl, though. A recent writing seminar by Dan Wells on You Tube was really helpful to me. It's not a book per se, but awesome plot advice, which I always need. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcmiqQ9NpPE

Tamara Narayan said...

Stein on Writing by Sol Stein is good. Stephen King's On Writing is entertaining and good.

Tamara Narayan said...

Stein on Writing by Sol Stein is good. Stephen King's On Writing is entertaining and good.

Stephen Tremp said...

Cynthia, I once eschewed writing and note taking but now leave a note pad by my bed to write down ideas and dreams in the middle of the night. Much easier than trying to record voice messages on my cell phone.

Sandra Cox said...

It would be interesting to see what your reaction to that book would be now if you did a reread. Let us know if you do.

Suzanne Furness said...

It's good that the advice has stayed with you and you can really see the benefit of it now. It might be interesting to revisit the book now you are further along your writing journey. I try always to carry a small notebook with me . . . just in case inspiration strikes.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I have to admit, I've never read a book on writing. I think I learn more from reading books I want to emulate than from some other writer telling me what works for them.

Writing advice I ignored and came back to later? Letting a draft rest between revisions. Reluctantly I came around to the idea that this was a good thing.

Ravyne said...

I keep a small bound journal in my purse all the time to write down gems that come to me when I am out and about. The one piece of advice that I discarded for years was to do some sort of brief outline for a story. I have mostly been a panster, but I've been doing this since the first of this year and it is really working out well. I wish I had done this many years ago. My favorite books on writing are King's On Writing, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, and Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.

Stephanie Faris said...

I know we can put our notes on our smartphones, but I often find myself scribbling notes on the back of receipts. Old habits die hard, I guess!

Christine Danek said...

I've always liked Hooked by Les Edgerton. It's great for helping with first chapters. I always ignore letting time pass after writing a draft. I'm pretty impatient. When I do let that time pass, I see why I have to.

Sherry Ellis said...

I always scribble notes on whatever I find- sometimes even on napkins. ;-)

Shannon Lawrence said...

For the longest time I was carrying a notebook around for notes. Now, since I have to have my phone on me at all times for my dad's Life Alert, I just email myself. I can't think of anything I read and discarded, then picked up again, but I'm sure it's happened.

Victoria Marie Lees said...

Yep, I'm a note jotter, too. I keep paper by my bedside to jot down any particulars that come to mind when I wake up. I usually fall asleep thinking of a scene or idea I'm working on. A tape recorder--remember those?--is another good idea to record thoughts when they come to you on the road. I think some of these fancier phones might be able to do that as well. My first time here, Cynthia. I'm blog hopping with C. Lee McKenzie. I'll join your blog as well. ~Victoria Marie Lees

M.K. Louie said...

I keep a notebook and notepad with me the majority of the time. If I forget to bring one, I rely heavily on Evernote and type in whatever great epiphanies on writing I have.

When I'm in the car and I can't do any of the above... I open Evernote, press the "mic" button and TALK to my phone to make sure that thought doesn't get forgotten. Yay for technology!

cleemckenzie said...

Sometimes revisiting a book you've read in the past is an excellent idea. You come to it with more experience and can probably learn new things.

Nick Wilford said...

I think the biggest thing I'm trying to do more of is more plotting. I discarded it before, but now I'm trying to do it more of it but still leave room to go off in unexpected directions.

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