Does Your Creative Writing Style Encourage A Relationship With Your Readers?

Posted at 03:21am on 4th June 2010

Is it ever a good idea, as a book author, to stop writing? This isn’t a trick question: I have a genuine interest in your views – especially those of you who subscribe to my blog and are regular readers of my articles – plus it may be something you should be asking yourselves. I’d like to know what you think because . . . well, I’ll tell you as I go along.

DOES THE ACT OF WRITING STIMULATE AUTHOR CREATIVITY?

My husband and I have spent the last eight days with my daughter, in a very rural part of North Wales. It’s been an idyllic holiday, during which I’ve had no actual thinking time, but thoughts have drifted through my mind, much like the myriad dandelion seeds in the air at this time of year; and some have sown themselves, randomly, for further consideration before finally taking root.

Yesterday morning, whilst I was preparing sandwiches for the long journey home, a much published author was talking, on the TV, about her writing life. I was only half listening to what she had to say, and half contemplating its relevance to me. She spoke about the absolute necessity to keep writing, every day, no matter what. You had to keep pounding away whether you felt like it or not, she said; it was the physical act of writing that stimulated creativity. So, without fail, she wrote seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year – or near enough!

OR CAN WRITING – LIKE RELATIONSHIPS - BECOME MERELY MECHANICAL?

Until one day she realised, when her friend was diagnosed with cancer, that there were other, more important, things in life: relationships. She learned that love and friendship had to be expressed in ways that were more demanding of you than simply saying, “Ring me if you need me.” You had, she said, to be there for your friend. Not by asking them how they felt, or what they needed. But by thinking it through for yourself; by being the answer to their emotional need; doing the doing, in practical terms; supplying the nourishment; fulfilling the requirements of care. That experience, she said, was not only life-changing; it informed the plot of her next book.

QUESTION YOURSELF ON THE WHO, WHAT & WHY OF YOUR WRITING

Suddenly, some of the dandelion-seed thoughts that had been drifting through my mind, appeared to be travelling in the same direction, blown by the same prevailing wind and settling into a pattern I thought I recognised.

At risk of sounding clichéd and mixing metaphors, I’ve been feeling, for some time now, as if I’ve hit a bit of a watershed in my writing, and in particular, with my blog. The wind that had first driven me to become an author had, subtly, been changing direction. What that TV interview pinpointed for me, was quite how much it had veered away from its original destination.

AUTHORS AND THEIR BOOKS

Along with other authors and their books, I have had to learn the intricacies of an online blog. In doing so, I identified that wind’s driving force in one of the first posts ever written for my website. It was the raison d’etre for all my books; it was what I urged other authors to identify in their writing lives; and it came to define my blog brand.

When I began blogging, nearly two years ago, the prime purpose was to promote my latest book, A Painful Post Mortem. But it was never the sole purpose.

The book was to ‘be there’ for readers who were at the end of their tether: because they had broken marriages; wayward kids; drug-fuelled adolescents. Like the author on Breakfast TV, I wrote the story from the heart because what I was writing was within my own experience. I couldn’t possibly know all my readers, personally, or take a casserole to their door, but I felt I could ‘be there’ for them in sharing my heartache, and the lessons I’d learned - through my writing.

Like the book, the reason for my blog was to connect with people. Where the book was to be inspirational at an emotional and practical level, the blog was to be – well – that’s the point, really . . .

BE INSPIRED – BE RIGHT BRAIN DOMINANT

Being away this week has made me confront reality. As always I took my laptop with me, intending to write blog content as usual. But a strange lethargy crept over my writing self and I blogged not at all. When I’ve not been reduced to tears by the sheer magic and majesty of the views from the top of Mount Snowdon, dazzled by the sweep of Nefyn’s beaches, or wrapped up in the intimacy and embrace of Ty Coch, I’ve toyed with my Facebook friends, played a little Freecell, or simply enjoyed being with my daughter.

The concern I felt about my blog was no more than a vague unease; and as I ceased to make my usual daily check of Google Analytics, I had the weirdest sense of being an observer, watching my inactivity, and marvelling at my indifference.

During this time I made absolutely no attempt to think. My left brain was virtually immobilised. And in this state of mind, I began to find myself receptive to a new way of thinking. What, in modern parlance, has become known as ‘blue-sky thinking.’

Isn’t this what many singer song-writers attempt to do with hallucinatory narcotics? And if so, is this the only method of attaining to the necessary freedom from the analytical hemisphere of the brain?

Not at all! In my article Right Brain: How To Make Your Writing Flow, I’ve explained the process in full. But what I want to say here is that author, Dorothea Brande, wrote, many years ago, about right brain writing. Sometimes, she said, cerebral function can inhibit creativity, which only physical activity can release. She advocated taking a walk, or doing the ironing (both of which I have been doing this week) as prime examples of opening the floodgates so that creative juices might flow.

CREATIVE WRITING STYLE

I think I may have discovered the truth of that in the past eight days. I feel that I’ve lost something since I finished my last book. Where my book brand was to ‘bring hope to the hurting’, my blog brand is to provide ‘resources to inform, inspire, encourage.’ The former – focusing on intimacy and an emotional response, seems, somehow, to have become subsumed in the more academic approach of ‘informing, inspiring and encouraging.’ The relationship I had at the outset with my readers has been sacrificed as my writing has become more journalistic in style.

It’s crept up on me, unawares. But I’m glad to report that this week of non-writing has not been unproductive! On the contrary, it’s been a gift. Having realised the way in which this change in my creative writing style has affected the relationship between me and my readers, I shall waste no time in correcting it. What I’d like to know, is whether you believe I’ve been successful in achieving that aim? And whether you notice anything similar in your own writing? So - does not writing for a short time inspire creativity? I think it probably does.

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