ljlee: (dance_muzi)
[personal profile] ljlee
A lot of us spend time working on the practice and theory of fiction-writing. But are there skills that don't have to do directly with fiction writing that are nontheless helpful? I've heard of art being useful to writers, for instance, and a musician I know is guided by her musical skills and inspirations when writing. I know another writer who's also an actor, and have heard anecdotally of actors making good writers. Andrew Robinson, who played Garak in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, wrote the novel A Stitch in Time about his character's background that I found wonderfully moving and evocative, not to mention great world-building of Cardassia. I can see a direct connection there between the two skillsets since acting is about expressing characters, like much of writing is.

While I am not an actor, I found my experience playing and running roleplaying games highly useful for understanding characters and keeping track of storylines in my writing projects. Roleplaying has also given me a perspective of stories not as something that comes from me but from the characters' own motivations and interests. When it comes down to it I have to inhabit these characters and play them, an ethos that I apply to writing as well.

Are there non-writing skills or experiences that you find useful for writing? Have you observed others using different skillsets when writing?
ljlee: (candle)
[personal profile] ljlee
“Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.”
- Winston S. Churchill

When I'm in the middle of a writing project I'm also in the middle of an obsession. Scenes and ideas from the project play in an endless loop in my head in different variations as I come up with new ideas and make adjustments to older ones. It's a pleasure, in a lot of ways, but often inconvenient; in the case of my current project I find myself in tears at the most inconvenient moments, like when I'm walking down the street. How would I explain that it's because I'm putting fictional characters through the wringer in my head?

The only thing that helps, I've found, is to write out those ideas into real scenes--not just fragmentary notes, but as part of a coherent story so I can stop gnawing on them like a dog with a bone. It's such a relief to get them out of my head and onto the page, not to mention a huge rush to write out something that's lived in my head for, sometimes, years.

Some ideas don't make it into writing, of coures, and some change, and sometimes an idea will make it more or less intact but the meaning and context will have changed completely in the meantime. It's all part of the process. Mostly, in my current case, I'd like to be able to go to work without welling up at random points. #DORK

How about you? How do you interact with your writing ideas at the planning and writing stages? Do you ever find them burdensome like I do?

(This post is presently open to the public, and will be taken private within a month.)


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