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How Writers Work: Finding a Process That Works for Youby Ralph Fletcher
Synopses & Reviews
A Place Where Words Can Grow
-- Jerdine Nolan
Lately I've been feeling unsettled. Shook up. Discombobulated. I'm smack in the midst of moving myself and my family from Alabama to New Hampshire. We are renting a home while our new house is being built. Most of our furniture, books, and clothes are still packed in boxes.
In some ways I don't have much to complain about. I'm writing in a large, airy office with windows on three sides that look out into the forest. It's a nice room, a great office, except for one small thing--it's not my space.
The books on all the bookshelves are someone else's books. The desk, light, rug, easy chair, photos on the wall belong to someone else. Right now all my personal belongings are packed up in boxes. I'm writing here, but I'm counting the days until I can write in my own space, surrounded by my own stuff.
Walk into a restaurant and your stomach starts to growl. Walk into a gym and your body prepares to sweat while you exercise. Our brains are conditioned to know what to expect in particular spaces.
The same thing is true about writing.
Your writing place doesn't have to be a spacious office with windows looking out at the forest. It could be an easy chair in a corner of a room or a breakfast nook in the kitchen. It could be a place in the woods where you can lean back against a tree or rock. You may have to try out several different writing places before you settle on one that feels right.
Many people write best when they are away from all the distractions of home. Some people like to write in a noisy cafeteria; others need aquiet place like a library. I like public places where I can write surrounded by strangers babbling around me. Airplanes are okay, but I usually get squashed between two huge people. I need to be able to stretch out.
Writing is so compact, so portable, so easy to take with me wherever I go, says Jerdine Nolan, author of Harvey Potter's Balloon Farm and other books. I hardly ever write at a desk, but there are times when I have to. I like to write in unexpected places like airports, train stations, the passenger seat of a moving car, on trains or planes. I like the idea of sitting still while I'm moving very fast. Seeing scenery flash by me is also very stimulating. For a while I even wrote in a very small closet!
One way to make your writing place comfortable is to surround yourself with the things that help you write. I set up my office so I have certain objects around me when I work: crystals I've dug up, trilobite fossils, sand dollars, an owl pellet somebody sent me. On the wall I've hung a photograph of me when I was five years old, my brother Jim was four, Elaine was three, Tom was two, Bobby was one. These things remind me of roots--not only my family roots but also deep roots of ancient life on this planet.
When you come right down to it, you are the place where your words will grow. But most writers find it invaluable to have a regular writing place, a physical space, where they can water and weed a garden of words.
Its misleading to think of writers as special creatures, word sorcerers who possess some sort of magic knowledge hidden from everyone else. Writers are ordinary people who like to write. They feel the urge to write, and scratch that itch every chance they have. Writers get their ideas down on paper using particular strategies that seem to work for them. These strategies are available to anyone who wants to be a writer
There is no secret. But there is a process. If you like to write, there are definite steps you can take to help you reach your goals. Good writing isn't forged by magic or hatched out of thin air. Good writing happens when human beings follow particular steps to take control o their sentences-to make their words do what they want them to do.
This book will show you how writers work, how you can become a writer, and how you can find a process that works for you
Includes bibliographical references.
About the Author
Ralph Fletcher has always been a special person for children's literature. He is the author of picture books, nonfiction, and novels for young readers. How to Write Your Life Story is the fifth book in Mr. Fletcher's series of instructional writing books, which includes A Writer's Notebook, Live Writing, How Writers Work, and Poetry Matters. Mr. Fletcher lives with his family in New Hampshire.
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