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Posts Tagged ‘writing tips’

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”  — Stephen King

A good writer will let you see beyond the picture and hear the water gurgling. — Photo by Pat Bean in Smoky Mountain National Park.

Five Books at a Time

My reading table always contains five books. In addition, there are books scattered all around my house – many waiting to become one of the five that are currently being read. I usually read the selected five one chapter at a time, rotating between them in order.

Well that’s what I do until one of the five demands I continue reading until I finish it without stopping, which I have to admit, is not a rare occurrence. And if that happens, nothing else gets done until the book is finished – and I love it when this happens.

I started my unusual reading habit for two reasons. The first is that there are books that I knew I wanted to read, but couldn’t seem to get into them. If I recall correctly, the first time that happened was with a James Michener novel, The Source. So I began reading just a few pages in it every night, and then I would pick up a book that held my attention better, At some point in Michener’s book, my interest took hold and I finished it quickly.

A good writer can place you in this forest and let you see the colors. — Photo by Pat Bean

I’m not a speed reader, but I can read fast when my attention is harnessed. On average, I read two complete books in a week. Reading too fast, however, was my second reason for reading several books at a time. Once a book takes hold of me, especially if I want to know what is going to happen next, I find myself reading so fast I don’t digest what I’m reading,

By reading several books at a time, I find myself better able to remember what I’ve read, maybe because I have to recall what went before when I return to the book. It works for me is all I can say.

Another habit I have is reading with both my journal and my daily to-do list nearby. In the journal, I write down quotes from the books, and my own thoughts about things I read. On my to-do list, I often jot down names of places that are mentioned, which I will later locate on a map or read more about. I also write down any words I do not know the meaning of, and will later look them up in a dictionary. This habit means nary a day goes by that I don’ learn something new.

Meanwhile, this slow-down ritual of reading that I’ve developed is also a tool for studying good writing, a habit that hundreds of authors have suggested makes for good writing. And good writing is definitely something I’ve come to love and appreciate. It was actually a piece of good writing that inspired this blog. After copying the paragraph down in my journal, I was inspired to share it.

I came across the paragraph in an essay by Eric Hansen that was included in his book, The Bird Man and the Lap Dancer: Close Encounters with Strangers.

It is the story of an elderly Russian woman who narrowly escaped with her life during World War II, and who now lives in a rent-controlled apartment in one of New York City’s worst sections of town. The woman, known as Madame Zova, warns Eric not to visit at night because it is too dangerous. He admits he is afraid to visit in the day, too, But he does. Later, when Eric has moved to California, he talks to Zoey, as he came to call her, on the phone, and asks if she is afraid to live alone. It is her reply, which Eric recalls in a marvelous piece of writing, that moves me intensely.

“No,” she said. “I am not afraid because I know what it means to love life and survive. People with no belief and no faith and no hope are like empty box. They have nothing. Miracles happen every day. You think red tulip growing from black soil is not a miracle?”

So what good books are you reading?

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: The Day After http://tinyurl.com/htebvmj As a person with wanderlust in my soul, these photos made me want to take a walk. Perhaps they will affect you the same way.

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“Oh, I want what we all want: a comfortable couch, a nice beverage, a weekend of no distractions, a book that will stop time, lift me out of my quotidian existence and alter my thinking forever.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

There's noting better than a nice walk through a scenic landscape, such as this boardwalk loop at Point Pelee National Park in Canada. Some of my best ideas come to me on such walks. --  Photo by Pat Bean

There’s noting better than a nice walk through a scenic landscape, such as this boardwalk loop at Point Pelee National Park in Canada. Some of my best ideas come to me on such walks. — Photo by Pat Bean

Or Perspiration?

            I’m always being asked where I get my blogging ideas. A good answer would be everywhere.

Or how about this boardwalk trail outside of Galveston. It, too, would make for a good idea walk. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Or how about this boardwalk trail outside of Galveston. It, too, would make for a good idea walk. — Photo by Pat Bean

But I have noticed that they mostly come when I’m sitting still, perhaps drinking my morning coffee on my balcony, staring out at Mount Lemmon as the day comes to life, or when I’m soaking in my bathtub, thinking of nothing much but shaving my legs.

I also get ideas in my dreams at night – but unless I write these down immediately, they disappear before I sit down to drink that first cup of coffee.

The funny thing is that when I do sit down in front of my computer – the perspiration of writing – to put an idea into words, it’s not unusual for a slew of other ideas, usually better ones, to take over my writing fingers.

So I guess the best answer to where my ideas come from is my butt – when it sits itself down to write. I guess that’s why “Butt to Chair” is the No. 1 writing tip of all times.          

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

  Bean Pat: Zen Pencils http://tinyurl.com/mq5lqdp  Funny cartoon with great message. I loved it.

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