Tag Archives: The social aspecst of reading and writing

Writing likes and dislikes

A couple of weeks ago, I met up with a local band of fellow writing enthusiasts. I meet with them every couple of months, to discuss writing preferences. This time, we spoke about what kinds of tales we like to write, and emphatically not like to write, what we feel we’re good at and what we find difficult.

I love reflecting on what I like and dislike with regards to writing. It helps me gain insight in what I want to do, and where my weak points are.

Personally, I am quite diverse in what I like to write, although I have a penchant in writing stories about a character looking for his/her place in the world. It’s a theme I have a lot of affinity with. I love to give the theme a twist, though. Like for instance taking a pretty nasty main character or someone set adrift later in life. I’m good at world building. Almost every one of my short stories is set into a universe of its own. I don’t like writing horror pur sang, with gore for the gore. And I need to work on intimacy within my stories, I am terrible at that.

Identifying those things helps me work on exercises to become a better writer. I allows me to think along lines like ‘what makes it that I feel like I am good at world building? And how can I help others get there as well?’ and work on what I am less good at. In light of that, for our next meet, we agreed to each write something we find difficult to write. We’re then going to look at each other’s writing. So we’ll both practice, and receive feedback to improve future attempts.

What do you like to write? What do you dislike to create yourself?

Writing Exercises

Last week I met with my writing group. We do something reminiscent of a write in every couple of months. It’s great fun and while I always write less than I expect going in, I always leave massively inspired. This was the first time we did a writing exercise in advance.

We’d agreed to all write a letter of approximately half a page from one of the characters out of one of our stories to another character from that story. It’s a great way to help develop your characters motivation further. It makes you think about what that character would say, how they would say it, and how they relate to that other character. This effect was what I’d hoped for, and pretty much an expected result based on the experiences several members of our group had at a writing event a couple of months earlier.

What I hadn’t expected was how excellent of a discussion starter it would be. I thought there was little left to learn about world-building, but we ended up having an interesting discussion about information distribution and character motivation that was both inspiring and educational. As far as I’m concerned it was a very successful experiment. It left me looking forward to see what effect other writing exercises have.

Which brings me to a question for other (aspiring) authors: do you have other writing exercises you’d recommend?

A Community of Books

The last couple of months, I’ve been going to more cons. In part this was because of convenience, since there were wild cons appearing almost in my backyard, so it was very easy to attend. Most cons sell cool things, and provide a convenient platform to discover new things. In part, though, I guess it is also because I have been looking for something.

Both reading and writing are fairly solitary exercises. This fact is fine on it’s own, but if you love reading and writing and want to talk face to face about the things you are passionate about to others, it is problematic. There are many websites and online communities that offer platforms to talk about both. But while talking to others online is fun, educational and worthwhile, I find that talking to physically present people about books and writing every now and again is important to me as well.

For writing, I’ve mostly got this covered with my writing group. We meet regularly and discuss the things related to writing that occupy our minds at length. For reading, I have also gathered a small group of people, but we just can’t seem to manage getting the group together. So I’ve been looking for places where other book-enthusiast congregate. Looking for places where people exchange ideas about reading, books and stories. A community of book-fans.

So far, it has been a partial success. I find that if the con has an extensive program with smaller program items, not just the items for hundreds of people at once, I find what I am looking for. The exchange of ideas about reading. But the massive things, while fun, are too anonymous for this. The irony is that it’s the bigger, more established cons that so far appear to have more of the program items I am looking for. Not the smaller or the newer cons. The disadvantage of wild cons appearing, is that they tend to be either on the smaller or the newer side, or both. Fortunately, if they’re successful, time tends fix both these issues. Here’s to hoping for the future 😉 And perhaps in the meantime I’ll try a more established con abroad.

The Added Value of Bling and Pride

Last week, I got to attend a book-gala (by verge of e-mailing them ‘I would like to attend’ in time, no special circumstances or anything) organized by a newly founded local initiative for promoting the fantastical genre. There were a couple of writers there I really admire, and a very large of aspiring writers like myself.

One of the big things where they deviated from earlier book events I have attended, was the dress code. We were supposed to dress up for this event.

Now, I have a slightly troublesome figure for affordable black tie dresses, since the waistline tends to be too high for my figure, or the chest-space too small, so I figured I’d make one myself. I didn’t manage in time, so I had to settle for more of a cocktail dress(those tend to be more figure-hogging and thus work just fine). Still I dressed up, and so did almost everyone else.

I thought it was merely just fun to dress up, until I was at the event. The atmosphere had somehow transformed from a group of people hanging out, to an official event. Instead of feeling like an enthusiastic hobbyist, I felt like an aspiring professional. That was a very magical feeling. I realized it was something that mattered to me, and that while growing from an aspiring writer into an actual writer might be hard and in the end might even prove impossible, it is something truly worth aspiring to, to me.

This very personal realization was not the only the only realization I had at the event. One of the people hosting the event, and one of the founders of the initiative, said that he wanted people to be proud of writing fantasy, and proud of reading it. Even though there are a lot of people enjoying fantastical tales, and most works within the genre is not what you’d call ‘light’ reading, especially not in the literal sense, and even though it is a big part of books for children where fantastical tales are celebrated openly, there is not a lot of pride in reading these books for adult. Sometimes, a lot more frequently then I’d like, when people speak about books in the genre, the fantastical elements are downplayed as unimportant. Like it’s uncool to read or write fantasy, and the related genres. You have to ‘look past’ those elements. Like it’s easy to craft a well developed world, or like you can not tell interesting, worthwhile and inspiring stories through fantastical tales. He wants to change that reputation, and I wholly support this initiative. Besides all the other things I read, I read and write fantasy, and I am proud of this.

Social Writing

A couple of years ago, I decided I wanted to talk with others about writing more. So I started talking to friends I knew also liked to write. After a little while, I started a low key online initiative, which enabled me to exchange ideas and support more easily. This blog is, in a way, an extension of that ambition.

Then last year someone explained to me what a ‘write-in’ was. I though it was a marvelous idea, and started writing together with others in the same space. While these hours of writing at the same table as friends that write are not always my most productive, they do tend to be very fulfilling, in a way that writing by myself rarely is. The group experience, and the ease with which I can talk about story aspects I’m struggling with, make me feel like I am doing something right. And I always leave feeling a little wiser then I was before.

The last couple of weeks, I have been writing a lot, even though I have been blogging less. I’ve also been writing with friends frequently and it made me realize something. One of the things I’d like to do next year, is a bigger story project with a couple of friends. I’ll be approaching some of them soon.

Do you like to write with others? Write as a social experience? Or do you prefer to write by yourself, inside your own little world?