“Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. … It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus.”
—Enid Bagnold (http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/there-are-no-rules/72-of-the-best-quotes-about-writing)
I’ve been struggling with writing for the last few months. Stuck as stuck can be. A Maiden’s Legacy is out and it’s time for the final book in the trilogy: The Seventh Daughter. But somehow this particular book simply refused to be written. Now as I’m back on my feet, or more back at the keyboard, I can see clearly why that was. There were just too many possibilities and I worried about letting my readers down with an ending that they might not have liked. Most of all, I was worried about letting myself down in the hype to make everyone else happy.
“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.”—Cyril Connolly
I never agreed with this quote as I used to think that we write to publish and therefore need to conform a little. But since I started hitting a brick wall, I tried writing again for myself and it all worked out. Writing exercises are a Godsend! I’m majorly into Jojo Moyes books right now and am dissecting them for all their worth. Here is what I found:
a. Her stories are about everyday things that happen and with which people are familiar (so nothing new or exciting)
b. She has extremely strong characters who you believe exist and can clearly visualize because they have already existed somewhere else before
c. The flow of her words is what sets her books apart as best sellers!
So while pondering these qualities, I decided to start doing a short writing exercise everyday with a well known story, in my own words. It doesn’t have to be long and knowing the full plot helps you concentrate on your style. Here’s one of mine, written for myself and no one else. But I’m sharing it with you because I hope this helps you on your journey in battling the block!
Writing Practise One:
Little Red Riding Hood
So this girl decides that she likes walking around the forest alone...in a bright red outfit which will not blend in with anything let alone a dark green forest. Right. Her mother sends her only child on an errand to bring her sick grandma a basket of food and she merrily goes hopping off into the unknown. Of course, her mum warns her of the dangers lurking around every bend but can you ever really be prepared?
She traipses along the forest paths, straying off the beaten path because some flowers and birds look much more alluring than retaining the sole possession of her limbs. Wolves, the poor creatures are wrongly portrayed as evil everywhere, in all fairytales, all over the world. So this hungry wolf stalks the little unsuspecting girl in her red riding hood and sees that she’s off to her grandma’s. No one knows how he got this piece of information.
He ends up reaching her grandma’s cottage before she does and stuffing poor old grandma into a cupboard. Locking the door must have been a feat for the fingerless creature but he manages...somehow. He lies in her bed and waits.
The innocent little girl comes a knocking. He calls her in. She is shocked by his appearance. Yeah, her grandma must have looked really good under normal circumstances. Because of her inability to tell the difference between a big bad wolf and a little old lady, she is eaten. Unfortunately, as ignorance tends to be something that is encouraged in our world, a wood cutter comes along and saves her from the belly of the wolf. He swallowed her whole, like a python, not like a wolf would, and so she emerges unscathed.
And gets to kill him back.