I had a nice blog post all planned out for today, but then I went on Twitter, and realized that IT’S WORLD BOOK DAY! Well, I thought to myself, what a lovely thing to celebrate. Maybe I’d better write something focused on books, instead of the thing I had originally planned. So I’m winging it, people. Be prepared.
If this was a Tuesday, I’d just post about one of my favorite books, or maybe share a bookish quote. However, this is a Thursday, and therefore I must share some sort of writing process… wisdom? I’m not at all sure I’m qualified to use that word, but I can’t think of a better one off the top of my head, so there you are. I told you I was winging it.
Anyhow, getting to the point:
Sometimes, as a writer, I get all sort of mixed up inside, wondering how to sort out the ideas in my head. Which ones do I run with, and which ones do I shelve? Because, let’s face it, not every idea we get is worth pursuing. Out of all the things we could write about, which ones should we? That question used to boggle me, until about a year ago.
The thing that helped me answer that question was something I found online. Whether it was a blog post, an article, or whatever else, I unfortunately can’t remember. I thought I had it bookmarked, and I was simply going to share it with you, but sadly enough I recently had to replace my old computer, and all of my bookmarks have been lost. I deeply regret not being able to share the source with you all, and I promise that if I ever come across it again, I will make sure this post is updated. Until then, you’ll just have to struggle along with my own abridged version.
The basic exercise was this:
First, identify your Top Five books. Ones that impacted you deeply; ones you keep coming back to. Also, consider what draws you to them; what do you admire in each?
Next, compare them. Find out what similarities they share. You will most likely find that those things relate to some broader theme. For example, I discovered that my Top Five shared the common theme of small, unimportant people triumphing over what (to them at least) are great odds, although to others the accomplishments may seem insignificant.
Finally, sit back and take a look at your list of similarities and themes. Don’t they feel “right”? Don’t they satisfy something inside you? Maybe you should be writing about those things.
It can work the other way, as well. For myself, if I like stories about small people triumphing over their personal odds, it wouldn’t make sense for me to write a tragedy about a king losing his throne and everything he holds dear, now would it?
So anyway, that’s my two cents worth. Go read a good book today. And while you’re at it, consider what makes it good. Oh, and if anybody randomly knows where this exercise originated, please feel free to let me know. I’d love to track it down again.
An after thought: Since I didn’t use the post I planned for today, that means I’m all set for next week.