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Ha! Did you catch it? Yes, there’s a different letter in that title up there. Knowing — as I have no doubt you do, my dear inklings — that WILAWriTWe stands for “What I Learned About Writing This Week,” perhaps you assume that the “D” represents the only altered word in the title for today. In this assumption, you are correct. But what verb doth said “D” abbreviate? Read the article, and if by the end you think you know the answer, post it in the comments! (No fair posting if I’ve already told you.) 😉

Theory Is Nice…

In every WILAWriTWe, my challenge is to take what I’ve gleaned — from reading, from watching, from hearing, from living — and synthesize the whole mess into something that makes sense to most of you. Judging by the feedback Aaron and I receive on my articles, I seem to be fairly successful with my sensory synthesis. (I’m so glad I got to say that; the alliterative nerd inside me is squeeing with abandon right now. [You didn’t even know one could squee with abandon, did you?]) Sometimes, I even manage to squeeze in not only advice based on the gleanings, but actual personal application as well. From what some of you have said in comments, I gather that my advice is oftentimes helpful, and I’m glad of that. But I find that anytime I try to apply external advice to my life, I find it much easier to do so if I can see how that advice has worked for someone else. Or not worked, as the case may be.

That’s why I’m always glad if I can share with you how WILAWriTWe has worked for me. For one thing, if I’ve got some personal experience to draw on, it means I’ve been having fun. And when it comes to writing, I’m sort of a fun junkie — meaning, a junkie who’s hooked on fun, not a junkie who is fun. (Or maybe it’s both. I don’t know — you can decide that for yourselves.) Anyway, if I have something practical to share, it means I’ve been on a writing roller-coaster, a tubular tale spin, a wild literary what-hast-thou. And as we all know, one of the things we writers love to talk about most is not necessarily the theory but the passionate, exhilarating, mind-blowing, pedal-to-the-metal experience of writing.

So that’s what I’m going to tell you about today. Not my theories, but my practice.

…But Practice Makes Perfect

If someone had told me five years ago that at this point in my life, I would have more time to write than I could ever wish for, I would have fallen to my knees, sobbing with joy whilst flailing about with my arms. (Should you ever find yourself the bearer of joyous tidings in my presence, you’ve been amply forewarned.) But I never dreamed that my writing craft would involve so much else that is not writing. The past week has been a fairly typical one in The World Of Courtney’s Writing Life, and it shows quite clearly what I’m talking about:

  • I started the third draft of Shadows After Midnight, a young adult paranormal novel about Christian college students who are being stalked by demons. Shadows is the second of three books in a trilogy; the first is Colors of Deception (which is complete).
  • I finished editing Aaron’s novel, Taming Fire, and Becca’s novel, Flawed, Book One: Empath. For the record, both were awesome reads, and both reminded me of how much I have yet to learn from my fellow writers.
  • I started planning two new stand-alone paintings and a series of self-portraits. Painting shall commence as soon as my current work (a zombie request from a friend) is dry.
  • I read a fantasy novel — Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey — and wasn’t terribly thrilled with it.
  • I had five fascinating and encouraging conversations about creative things with fellow creative types.
  • I took a series of photographs at the Paseo Art District Arts Festival.
  • I worked on the first draft of Tapped Out, a light fantasy novel. “Light” as opposed to fantasy of the heavy, deep-thinking, epic sort. My story is: boy meets princess, boy saves princess (with unexpected assistance), boy gets princess. They sail off into the sunset. Literally. The End. Tapped Out is my vacation, and I heart it with gusto.
  • Sadly, my brain didn’t want me to go on vacation, so it decided to give me another new story idea. I’m not ready to reveal details, but I will tell you this: This will be a serial novel published in its own brand-spankin’-new blog. I haven’t plotted the story yet, so I can’t tell you how soon I’ll actually start writing it. But I know it’s going to be the polar opposite of my sweet, cutesy little light fantasy. This serial novel is going to be heavy, dark, gritty, ominous, and, I’m afraid, bleak. Ain’t gonna be pretty, ain’t gonna be cathartic. I think I’m gonna freak myself out writing it. But we shall see. I’ll keep you posted.

So. Painting, reading, lots of writing, taking photos, editing, self-editing, and talking. Out of seven activities, only one did I ever envision as part of my Writing Life: the writing itself. Funny…it turns out that all of those activities (and more) are not just necessary for my writing but also vital. Last week, I mentioned The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. One of Cameron’s main beliefs is that we creative types require artistic play; if we don’t play, at some point we will stop creating. We need to let our artists play the same way we require oxygen. It’s that important.

Not to worry, I’m not embedding a WILAWriTWe into the WIDAWriTWe. Okay, so I am, a little. It’s just impossible to explain all my bouts of artistic play — the painting, the reading, the photography, the talking — without mentioning Cameron, since she’s the one who taught me that I needed this. 🙂

Does Practice Make Perfect?

I’m wondering if any of you caught me above. “What? Does she really think her list of ‘practices’ shows that her craft is perfect? Pshaw, and pshaw again!” I hope none of you are thinking that, and I hope you know me well enough by now to know that I’d never claim perfection in any area! No, I don’t believe that my practice makes my writing perfect…but I do believe that my practice makes my writing better. And my practice makes my Self better, too. And betterment — of writing and of self — is really what it’s all about.

Practice and play: That’s WID*AWriTWe!

*Anyone care to take a guess? 😉

Photo credit Julie V. Photography.

2 Responses to “WIDAWriTWe”

  1. You have to mean “What I **DID** about Writing This Week”

    your energy is contagious Courtney, you make me want to go write more!
    Thanks, Justin

  2. Courtney Cantrell says:

    Justin, you are 100% correct! You get a cookie. ;o) I admit, I wasn’t being terribly clever, but at least I could fool myself into believing I was, at least for a little while. ;oD

    And I am sooooooooooo glad to know I’m inspiring you! It’s encouraging to hear that when I put effort into something I write, that energy reaches someone. Thank you for telling me that! Your comment really made my day. :o)