Friday, January 7, 2011

Supporting the Writing Life: Part 1

I've been thinking about all the ways we writers can strengthen our commitment to the work. So I've compiled a list of 12 things to do that support the writing life. Look forward to these in installments.

Read every day—it’ll strengthen your writing. Fit it in first thing in the morning, before going to bed at night, instead of watching TV, while climbing the stair master, or during your lunch break. Or get a book on tape/CD for the car. (I couldn’t wait to drive anywhere just to listen to Annie Proux’s That Old Ace in the Hole!) Read in the genre you’re writing in, read outside the genre to widen your span, and read about writing.

During my first full-time job the summer I was fourteen, I raced every day to the couch in the ladies’ lounge during each 15-minute break to devour A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. That book saved me from the monotony of paper pushing and swept me away into the wonderful world of the imagination.

I still read during my half-hour lunch breaks; reading gives me the separation I need and moves me slowly through the pile of books by my bedside (Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide; If the Buddha Married: Creating Enduring Relationships on a Spiritual Path; Real Knockouts: The Physical Feminism of Women’s Self-Defense; Seabiscuit: An American Legend).

What books have you read this year? What books are on your to-read list? When do you make time to read?

Listening to authors read excerpts and discuss their work can inspire you to read and write more. Often authors illuminate their writing process, their approach to crafting work or getting published. You can catch a glimpse of the life behind the pen, and feel camaraderie within your community. Check out listings at your local independent bookstore, university or café.

This year I only went to a few author readings, including Anne Lamott and Pam Houston. Both women were insightful, humorous and clearly accomplished in their craft and identities as writers. Sitting in packed rooms of eager audiences was akin to singing along with a favorite band at a concert, albeit quieter. Next week I’m going to a local book signing by my cousin, veteran YA author Ellen Schreiber of the Vampire Diaries series!

What author events have you attended? What readings will you listen to this year?


rosaria said...

Excellent ideas! I'd want to add the obvious, attend a writers' group, or a class, where you can share and learn from others as well. Hearing how someone else is crafting a piece, what thoughts they had when they introduced this or that, helps us all gain perspective.

I read non-fiction,stuff I would not normally pick up, to gain content knowledge, to forget what I'm working on, to sink into a universe I know nothing about. It helps to distract me.

Nicole R. Zimmerman said...

Thanks Rosaria. See the next posts for more on writers' groups, etc. The dozen ideas continue...

Sabrina said...

Nicole - reading your posts is very motivational and inspiring but also intimidating. You have accomplished so much - reading your Tribute to a New Year! So congratulations. Your success does give that little nudge to keep going!
On a another nore - I recently read Half the Sky - and think it was an outstanding book. A must read - for everyone! Hope you are making your way through it!

Nicole R. Zimmerman said...

Thanks very much Sabrina - for reading, for singing on as a follower, and for your comments. I am eager to motivate and inspire, but laugh a bit to myself over the intimidation part. I, too, was surprised by my own list of accomplishments (and encourage everyone to write one) since mostly I hear the berating voice reminding me of what I haven't done! Keep plugging away...

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