Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Secret to Writing well - Reading

 It is an undeniable fact that great writers are usually good readers. If you read the autobiographies of writers you will see a number of references to reading. A good example of this phenomenon is found in the Diaries of Virginia Woolf, the famed 20th century modernist writer. The Diaries are littered with reference to an eclectic group of authors and books, ancient and modern. She appreciated the great writing of others though there was only one writer she wished she could write like and that was Katherine Mansfield.

Reading allows us to brush shoulders with writers from throughout the centuries. This reading exposure then has an effect on our own writing styles. Some writers in their formative years have tried to write in the style of others. This derivative writing then develops into the writers own individual style.

So prospective writers become avid and adventurous readers.

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Monday, August 13, 2012

A Tip for Reading More Books

I have found the way to read more books. It is really easy and it just involves not spending time on the Internet. We recently moved to a farmlet out of town and we can only get very expensive wireless Internet. At $20 per GB I am severely restricting the time I spend on the Net.

I now have several hours a day freed up which I spend reading. It is amazing how many more books you can get through. I have gone from 2-3 books a month to 3-4 books a week - awesome.

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Albatross Years

This autobiographical book is gripping in it's nautical interest. It was a book that I picked up in a fire sale at the library and then forgot. I found it on the bookshelf yesterday and started reading. I am hooked.

I don't like boats as a rule so I was surprised that I got caught. The book tells of the life of an American lad who goes from being a hobo, riding the rails in early 20th century USA, to a merchant seaman who sailed the seven seas and had many varied and interesting experiences along the way.

The writer, tells of many ships from enormous to very small that he sailed on and of the characters he met. He was in merchant fleets during world war 2 and the memories from this time are crisply portrayed and give a sense of the danger that these sailors underwent.

Another point of interest is that the writer is an auto-didact and very well read. The book is littered with literary gems which was unexpected.

An ideal book for a rainy weekend.

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Virginia Woolf's Work Ethic

For most of her writing life, Woolf dedicated three hours of her morning to writing. She was very focused over this time and this concentrated effort fuelled her high quality literary output. Many of us bemoan the fact that we don't have enough time in the day to get things down, but our problem is usually lack of focus.

I am applying the 3 hour focus to my working life and it is great. I suspect that may people do less than 3 hours of productive work in an 8 hour day due to the distractions of the workplace.

I visited the shed that Woolf wrote in at Monks House and it was secluded and quiet. Ideal for the mind work involved with writing.

Frank Sargeson, a well known New Zealand writer, had a quiet bedroom, very plain where he loved to write. He said it always amazed him the characters, sounds and sights he could conjure up while staring at a plain Pinex wall.

Be disciplined and see what you can achieve!!

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