Writing Secrets: The humbling lessons we learn from writing

 In Jo-Anne Richard's blog, Tips for Writers

Writing can teach you as much about yourself as it can about the craft.

Over the past weeks, I’ve been sharing with you the advice of a few of our mentoring participants – those who are writing a second draft, have just begun a first, reached the dreaded middle section or, this week, are reading through a newly completed first draft.

Clive has found that writing a novel has “taught me an enormous amount about myself, as so much of me is revealed in my characters, especially the main characters.”

Here’s what he can share about the process, in his own words:

I totally immersed myself in the story, to the point that in many ways I was living a parallel life. If I wasn’t writing, I was often thinking about and planning the story’s unfolding.  In my case, my main characters are Afrikaans and Xhosa. I now feel I have learnt more about these cultures than I had in my entire life before this.

Without wanting to sound emotional, I have grown to love them, as well as Calvinia, the setting for my novel.

I wrote when I was inspired, which was often, because I was constantly engaged. I would strongly advise against downing pen for too long, as trying to pick up the thread after a delay can be intimidating. Writing is a calling in many ways. It’s lonely, but more than that, it’s meditative. Time stood still, and before I knew it, hours had slipped past.

I couldn’t have done it without mentoring and support. While tapping into one’s bountiful imagination and putting it down on the page feeds the soul, one has to submit to the technical crafting of the novel.

Sometimes one has to sacrifice ones “darlings” for the greater good of the story.

Writing this novel has been a phenomenal experience for me, and all I can say is: If writing is in your blood and you have a story to tell, then act on that calling.

It will undoubtedly be a life-changing undertaking. It’s definitely changed my life for the better.

Read Richard’s latest blog: ‘Monday Motivation: Story is alive and well on the small screen

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