Learning from the great writers

There are those who believe the on-line marketers who offer us the opportunity of a large regular income for four hours work a week. The rest of us know that being successful and earning serious money involve hard work.

We can learn quite a lot from others of course. Perhaps I am not the world’s greatest marketer or the world’s greatest writer, but I do believe that in order to write my material it helps to read. It is not just a question of collecting knowledge, though in the digital age, we have the opportunity to do that (and I do). I believe it is also true to say that reading other people’s prose makes us better writers, even when we read fiction

Actually a good story helps me relax and chill out, and if there is something to admire in a writer’s style, some of which might rub off, that seems no bad thing.

Recently, because Amazon was kind enough to offer it for my Kindle, I downloaded G K Chesterton’s The Complete Father Brown Stories. I read most of the stories when I was in my early teens, which was a fair while ago, so perhaps I had not appreciated then how beautifully they are written.

Now of course I cannot plagiarise Chesterton in order to write better, and his style is of its period, which is definitely early Twentieth Century written by someone whose education was in the late Nineteenth. However, his stories are a joy to read and a reminder of how important it is to write well. If a little of his essence and that of other authors I read seeps through into my writing, it will be no bad thing.

It is like a sporty person having the chance to train with a top athlete. It can only help us to improve.

Do you enjoy fiction, and does it help when you write your own material?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Working, resting, writing and walking

Floating boat by one of my favourite walks

The other day a doctor told me I shouldn’t work hard all the time and that I should take breaks and spontaneous time-outs. That is good advice, but actually I already do those things.

It is true that some of what I think of as a break, others might consider work, but leisure is whatever you find relaxing. I know many people and indeed some bloggers keep their noses to the grindstone eighteen hours a day. They are out seeing customers during the day and writing articles and blogs half the night. I certainly couldn’t do that and don’t have the drive or energy. I wouldn’t dare criticise in the sense that one might think that if you cannot make a decent business thrive in more normal hours you aren’t doing it right. Many of these dynamo-types are phenomenally successful. It’s just that we all have the choice as to whether we work all hours.

All of us need family time. Some of the “dynamos” schedule it in. I just like to let it happen. I don’t really watch all that much TV. What television I do watch I mostly like to be informative and instructive though I do like crime drama; most of it anyway. It’s time spent with my wife, though, and luckily she likes to watch much of the same stuff.

I write for enjoyment, even this blog. I hope you find it useful because that is part of the purpose of it of course, but writing gives me pleasure. I am very relaxed right now as I type this. 🙂

For me, another way of relaxing is in reading. I read about almost anything, and I do read fiction. I think that helps my writing style to keep fit. We learn all the time, and often one can see the tricks another writer uses to make the text lively and compelling so that we want more.

I am getting towards the end of the Millennium trilogy which, after the first part of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, is very gripping. The English writing isn’t great and the translation occasionally odd (why use “gallimaufry” instead of “hotchpotch” or “mishmash”?), but as we go on, the way of winding up the tension and making the reader champ at the bit is terrific. There is so much we can learn from other writers, famous or otherwise. I regard that sort of reading as gym training for writers. As in the gym, I might not be the greatest but I try.

As you know, I get the best ideas when I am out walking. Although I walk more in the evening I might go out any time of the day if my schedule allows and I feel like it. I am writing this in the afternoon having been out for a quiet walk this morning. I like to look and listen and today I saw oyster-catchers and both saw and heard a curlew. Relaxing like this makes it so much easier to come back to the office with new energy and ideas.

Some businesses in the service sector and even in my sector offer appointments to clients at weekends. I may occasionally see a client at a weekend in the UK tax season, but generally I think that if they can’t make time to see me during business hours or early evening they aren’t the sort of client I want. That is because if they are stingy over time they are probably stingy over paying me. But it suits me anyway to make sure I am not under pressure seeing people at all hours.

I find the best ways of working are:

  • to enjoy what you do
  • to take pleasure and treat as leisure what others might see as work
  • to be organised so that you are not under deadline pressure all the time so that
  • you can take time off when you feel like it, and
  • actually take the time out and have fun

Of course it’s whatever floats your boat, but that is what floats mine. What floats your boat?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Giving our time to our loved ones and ourselves

Braun HF 1, Germany, 1959

Image via Wikipedia

The other day I talked about giving time, but it was not a lecture for anyone, but more of an observation as to how some do and some don’t. I work hard on my business mainly because I enjoy it and get real satisfaction from having satisfied clients. I enjoy nearly very aspect.

I do think it is important to have family time, though, and to have a bit of fun, even if it is watching favourite TV programmes with my wife. I wouldn’t criticise others who don’t believe in watching TV, and surprisingly in 2011 I still know several who think it is a waste of time. They are entitled to their opinion. I like to use television as another source of learning, and even some TV fiction can be quite educational in addition to being relaxing. I can’t stand soaps, though.

Now and again it is important to relax the mind with a bit of recreation, so I read some fiction too. I think we need to step outside ourselves just a little, and into someone else’s shoes, to listen to their story. Anyway, I am not the only one who thinks we writers need to train with the best , many of whom write published fiction.

I think better and believe I write better when I remember to take time away from the computer. Surely I am not alone in that? All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Enhanced by Zemanta