A little more about the ings

I’ve been thinking a lot about writing  – not about starting to write, or getting to grips with writing because for the moment, thankfully, that little hiccup is over and words are flowing nicely once again. I’m thinking about the process of writing, and how even someone who does it all the time like me – or maybe especially someone who does it all the time, needs to reflect on the process. We need to think about what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, why and what the point is.

I’ll leave aside the what and why as I’ve mentioned that many times before (i’m a compulsive and addicted writer, writing in my head if I haven’t got a handy paper, pen, pencil, phone etc) and I’ll think instead about the how. A couple of days ago I wrote about the keys to writing – observation, imagination, and inspiration, and yesterday I had a ponder about what I called the ‘ings’. The ‘ings’ are what engages the reader – even if the reader is only the writer! It took me a very long time to understand what was meant by audience. I used to harp on (something I’m good at, and something I ought to stop being good at) about how it wasn’t necessary to have an audience, writing for yourself was enough. Dolt! Doughnut! If you read what you’ve written, you are the audience, you are your own audience. You don’t want your eyes to sweep across your own words in a passive, inactive way, maybe smug that you’ve written these gems. Writing the words isn’t enough; the reader – you or others – have to be engaged, engrossed, moved perhaps by what is on the page/screen.

As a writer, you have to look at your words and think about the ‘ings’, asking yourself such questions as:

  • is this compelling?
  • is this exciting
  • is this amusing
  • is this thought provoking
  • is this disturbing
  • is this inspiring

or heaven forbid –

  • is this boring
  • is this confusing
  • is this annoying/irritating

You have to be self-critical, but you also have to be pleased with what you write, and by being self-critical you are more likely to be pleased – and so will other readers, whoever they may be!

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