Friday, 29 January 2010

Literary Advice: Go for a Walk

If you click on the links to other blogs I follow you will find all sorts of advice about writing. Form, point of view, language, voice, beginnings, endings, structure... what could I possibly add that would be useful in any way?

Yesterday I was stuck on a short story. A very short story. How to get what I wanted to say into 200 words, and make it live?

So I went for a walk and I thought, as I was walking, this is the best advice I could give to someone who was in my position.

As I walked the story played around in my head and the important parts floated to the surface. Phrases struck me as odd, out of place, or reconfigured themselves to fit.

The ending that had eluded me came spinning out of nowhere like a comet. I had one of those tremendous 'aha!' moments that stopped me dead, and then I smiled, remembering why I loved writing; I had never had one of those wonderful life-affirming moments as a project manager.

Walking has another literary purpose: you notice things. Trees, colours, sounds, impressions. The feeling when a bird takes off from a tree right next to you, the sensation of pushing at the ice on the edge of a lake and watching the air move underneath.

Characters, too. I passed an elderly Chinese man, muffled up to the ears, taking his daily constitutional. A couple jogging in his-and-her matching Lycra.
I was bewildered by a loud whirring noise until I came around a corner to find a smartly-dressed father walking next to his young son who was driving a tiny electric car. It was either adorably cute or a horrendous symbol of extravagant Western consumerism. You decide.

Lastly, walking wakes up the mind, it's good for you and it's free!

No comments: