Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Art of War by Steven Pressfield

This is a rather unusual book about creativity and writing. The worst enemy of writers, or people who want to write, is resistance. That insidious force robs us of creativity.

Pressfield says, "The inability to move forward melts when you open a reference book." It may act as a trigger to propel you in a direction. I once found that reading an article about someone who dared to accomplish a risky endeavor became the impetus for writing about taking risks.

In today's paper there's an article about the woman who just completed a solo ski trek across Antarctica in fifty-nine days. Reading the article made me think of solitary pursuits and what that means for people. There's an article or short story bubbling to the surface.

"Thinking in propinquities." What's in proximity to what you're writing.

Pressman quotes Anne Lamott ,who thinks most of her first drafts are trash—ready for a complete over haul. Those first words, pages, entire stories are not the finished piece. They are the way to get down the story.

Paragraphs are referred to as furniture and when you think about furniture you realize that there are lots of options to move it around. Pressman suggests that you do it the old fashioned way—print out the draft, cut out paragraphs and move them around. Don't neglect to write in the margins. And what are you writing? You're asking the paragraph what it means. "This is called indexing."

Then he suggests asking yourself questions" Have I repeated myself, just used different language?"

Are there too many self referencing statement starting with I?

Have I checked all my adjectives and nouns?Are they doing their job?

He also suggest writing five pages a day. F

I do like his punch list. (The words in italics are mine.)

•" toss out your writing prompts
write with intent
write what you know ( I'm not certain I always agree with that statement)—there's always research
tell the truth ( I like this as a mantra)
make every page drive a story forward ( even description moves the story along)
What is this about? ( I often ask people to state in one sentence what the story is about.)
take notes, use references if needed —( nothing turns a reader off more quickly than a fact they know to be erroneously reported)
focus—
think in propinquities
map out your structure
write a draft ( don't worry about that first draft—it's not supposed to be perfect)
choose your audience ( most important)
I love this one —edit with murder on your mind "

Library Book Challenge


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