Writing: A Contact Sport

When I first started writing I thought it was a solitary endeavor. After all, it was my thread to pull. Fast forward a thousand years and I am still pulling threads. Yet I no longer believe writing is a solitary journey.

For starters, the seed of an idea often connects with some other benign thought or passing coincidence to spark creation. An overheard conversation, music, the couple at the grocery store, I’m not shy, I borrow from everywhere. This is first contact.

Then writing in slow agonized start stop key taps I sit for hours by myself. However, I am far from alone. Characters, once developed, become living, breathing people chattering in my head about how they think the story should go. Crazy, right? Chances are they are chattering in your head too. How many times do you write something, pause and then hit the backspace key? We know when the writing isn’t right, when a character wouldn’t use that word or the story demands some greater truth as we grumble, cry and peel the proverbial onion.

Even if you never hit delete, think about how many times you have batted about character and story arcs until friends and family are sick of hearing about it. Yet these mental discourses are needed. When we are stuck or lost down rabbit holes, bouncing ideas off people can give us the fresh perspectives needed to guide us back home. Building a story requires tearing it apart and restructuring what works. This is the process and no one gets it right on their first try.

Which leads me to those wonderful Acknowledgement pages. Do you ever read them? Yeah, I didn’t either until I realized how inspiring they can be. The countless names thanked (Nicholas Sparks once had about 50) in keeping the “writer machine” gears oiled and turning. Or the uber-famous-make-it-look-so-easy crediting their team for making the book held in my hands a reality. Really? I guess it does take a village to write a book.

Truth is friends, family, beta readers, critic groups, editors, etc., are all our teammates. We can tag them into the ring anytime and rely upon their feedback/encouragement because they want us to succeed – even if it means delivering lots of red ink. Like life itself, we all support one another. Expect bumps and bruises. Writing is a contact sport. No writer ever writes alone.  There is almost always a reader.

Author/Contributor: Teresa Little

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