Oh, hello! So glad you came to visit me down here in my vacuum. Pull up a dust bunny and stay awhile, I love company. You see, I’ve isolated myself from the world hoping it will free my thinking. I’ve heard that reading and watching things on TV impede the free flow of new ideas so I’ve stopped reading and watching. I’ve even stopped listening to music.
You think I’m crazy don’t you? Well perhaps I am. You see, the longer I’ve spent sealed off from the world the more amazing I feel my writing has become. Would you like to see some?
I can see from your face you don’t like it. Although I can’t fathom why you wouldn’t think that this is the most original and amazing new material you’ve ever read, please tell me what’s wrong with it.
Cliche? How can it be cliché? Isolating myself was one fail-proof way to avoid being cliché! How dare you! And to say the dialogue is stiff and unnatural is just not fair, this is how my characters talk, exactly how they sound in my head.
Mmm, I see. You’re not in my head. I guess that’s a problem. Do you have any suggestions?
Lucky for vacuum man, and for anyone who has tried isolating themselves to improve their work, there is help out there. The fact is that you cannot exist in a vacuum and rely only on the information in your head to write a book or any piece of fiction. Writers need to see, hear, feel, taste, and smell the world around them to be able to convey the same sense of realness into their work. They also need to be exposed to the writing of others to be able to compare and contrast different ideas. Part of refining writing includes learning what things you like or dislike in the work of others and then applying it to your own writing.
There are limitless resources for writers to use to improve their work, here are a few:
- Read fiction. That’s right, pick up a book and read. Choose both books in your preferred genre and also a selection of other literary works. Pay attention to elements that appeal to you and think of ways that you can incorporate them into your work.
- Read books on the craft of writing. There are many wonderful books written by successful author’s that teach about their unique approach to the craft. These can be most helpful if you are stuck in a rut or uninspired.
- Watch TV and movies. Really, I mean it. Although it’s not the written word, there can be a lot learned from visual media. Everything from story construction to realistic dialogue can be found to one extent or another – and it’s faster than reading a book. That said, it can’t be lazy TV watching. It has to be edge of seat, notebook in hand, watching and critiquing the different elements.
- Take a class. Being surrounded by other writers and having the chance to participate is a wonderful way to expand a writer’s horizons. It is also great motivation to spend more time writing when there are assignments to complete.
- Attend a conference. There are literally hundreds if not more writing conferences every year. There are opportunities without number to attend classes, workshops, rub elbows with people in the publishing industry, and meet other writers.
- Utilize the web. There are also countless ways to expand your craft online. Some of my favorites include blogging, podcasts, and online literary magazines.
So, when you’re feeling uninspired, or are looking for a way or two to avoid spending time actually writing, try something new and expand your horizons. Chances are you might run across something that gets your creativity engine revved and read to go again.