Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Is this writing?

Reading critiques of my work by my writing group
Reading their works-in-progress to offer my critique
Figuring out why a book I'm reading works so well
Figuring out what makes another book not work as well
Reading advice from screen writers about dialogue and exposition
Reading writers' and agents' responses to different loglines and opening paragraphs
Identifying elements of story in movies and other art forms
Daydreaming of what-if situations for my characters
Writing down new story ideas
Writing blog posts

These are all things I do n my quest to become a better writer. They are all important, some perhaps even necessary.

But none of them takes the place of actual writing.


Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Hmm, I see those things as part of writing, but you're right - nothing takes the place of actually sitting down and writing the story.

Domey Malasarn said...

I think it all counts, though! I would be a better writer if I spent more time on these activities.

Laurel Garver said...

I think about half of these DO count as writing, especially if you make use of a writer's notebook while doing them. Some really good stuff comes from freewriting what-ifs, plot ideas, setting ideas, why I loved or hated something I just read. I think we can get caught up in the trap that ONLY drafting scenes is somehow legitimate work.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

It's all part of being a writer, and it's important. But writing the book is the actual writing. Lately, I've been a slacker, full of angst.

Yat-Yee said...

I believe we're on the same page. These are all very much a part of writing and drafting scenes isn't the only legitimate work. I am simply speaking from experience: I can go far too long happily engaged in these activities without writing.

I read and savor and daydream and investigate and critique so that I can become a better writer but unless these activities actually culminate in actual writing at some point, well, I haven't written.

C. N. Nevets said...

They're all part of the career of writing, but I have learned the hard way that until I actually have the career of writing, my time and energy is limited enough that I need to focus more on the act of writing, and the career trappings need to come second, for sure.

MG Higgins said...

I'm not one of those people who believes you have to write every day to be a "writer." In those slacker periods I think doing the other writerly stuff you mention is a great way to spend time. Slacking with a purpose. I also agree that it can really eat up your time and make it feel like you're accomplishing something when you're really not. That's why I didn't blog today until after dinner.

lotusgirl said...

It all counts as preparation for writing, but it's not a substitute for actually writing the story down.

Yat-Yee said...

@ Nevets
interesting how you put it: the career of writing. It's true that when time is limited, we pick the choices that are most meaningful to us.

@ MG
I agree. Writing everyday is draining for me. I have to take time off, and that's where these other activities should come in. Sometimes, however, my balance between writing and soaking gets way off whack.

@ Lois

Lydia K said...

They all make my writing better, but nothing is as good as just sitting there and working on my WIP.

Nandini said...

And revisions? Those *are* writing in my book,, and yours since you exclude them ... but there's a fine line between tinkering with something that's ready to go vs actual necessary revisions.

Corey Schwartz said...

It's funny. I still have to lie with my daughter at bed time and stay with her till she is asleep. I get some of my best stanzas written in my head while I am in her bed. So I guess for me, putting my kids to sleep is writing :)