Book Club – A Writer’s Book of Days {Part 2}

Happy Friday everyone! Are you, like me, a little shell-shocked it’s not only Friday, but the first Friday in March? I feel like I’ve somehow skipped a few days somewhere…

Have you all had a chance to pick up A Writer’s Book of Days? Did you get a chance to peek into it or try your hand at a couple of the prompts? I know for myself, when I look back at what I’ve written, I tend to rely really heavily on sight descriptors: what things look like, the colors of objects, the visual impact of scenery. Second to that, I go for how things feel, both in terms of tactile sensations and emotions. Sounds get a cursory mention. I could definitely benefit from spending more time paying attention to the scent of life around me and learning to verbalize taste.

What are your go-to descriptors?

This week, let’s read just a short bit from “Guideline 3: Don’t Judge Your Writing.” We’re all our own worst critics, right? Pawns to the call of our own perfectionism, we stall when we don’t meet our own expectations. I love this section on bringing loving-kindness to our writing practice – for that’s what it is: practice. Whoever is perfect on the first go? Violinists don’t get to play first solo at Carnegie Hall the first time they set bow to string, right? And yet, we writers and artists sometimes expect ourselves to do the literary equivalent the minute we set pen to paper.

So I’d like us to read just a small bit from Guideline 3, focusing especially on the little mini-sections: “Perfectionism,” “About Language,” “A Few Sentences on the Sentence,” “False Starts,” and “Truth is in the Details.” And maybe just take note: when your perfectionist is talking, what kinds of things does she say? How does she stall you in your writing? Then when you sit down to write, you can give your perfectionist a hug and send her on her way.

To whet your appetite, I’ll share this part I love:
“Language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no name,” said Toni Morrison. Use the language of your fears, give voice to your terrors, call them up in the night and name them. Do this, too, with your joys and your pleasures. Write in the language of your prayers.

My friends, write in the language of your prayers.

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2 responses to “Book Club – A Writer’s Book of Days {Part 2}

  1. I am definitely enjoying this book. I originally bought it for Kindle but decided I wanted the print version. I think I will dog ear, highlight, read and reread this book many times.

    I have not done any of the exercises, and I’ve only done one prompt so far, BUT I am writing again… a lot!

    This book has me thinking quite a bit, though, about the balance between getting better at writing and keeping my voice. I want to make my voice better but still me. Does that makes sense?

  2. I’m so glad you’re finding the book helpful! I have the Kindle version and WISH I had the print version. I’ll probably pick it up the next time I’m in the States.

    I’m also so glad to hear you’re writing. And I do understand what you mean about wanting your voice to be better, but still your own. It’s a tricky balance because you read the work of authors you admire and maybe even emulate them a bit sometimes, but I wouldn’t worry about it too much. I think that’s part of the process of growing. You’ll try on a few different hats, to see how they fit, but deep down you’ll know which bits are authentic and which aren’t, because when you read back over your work you’ll remember where it came from.

    And I think developing our voice is not exactly about making it better, but rather making it stronger. Your voice is your voice, you just need to unearth it and slough off anything that isn’t it. It’s about learning how to pinpoint exactly what you mean to say about your unique understanding and experience. And it’s about identifying what parts aren’t you (e.g. cliches, overused phrases, etc.) and refining them into more original statements.

    Just keep writing and reading and I’m sure it will come! 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and perspective!

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