Monday, October 27, 2008

Writing, whether it's fiction or fact

Joe Fiennes sporting Shakespearean inky fingertips

A couple of comments about writing today.

First, academic writing always goes through periods of change. Today, the realities of how people conduct research has an impact on how academics publish their work. This leads to the topic of a piece in the Guardian about online journals 'narrowing study'. Academics are increasingly acting in parallel ways to journalists and there's good and bad to this. When doing my Masters, I was told to stop writing like a journalist, a habit I happily revived in my PhD - and it didn't hurt me. I won a medal. (Yes, even academics can win medals.) How was I writing like a journalist? I tried to be catchy, to inject humour, to keep up with current trends and events, all while juggling a thesis-load of theory and critical analysis. However, at times, the constant need to publish in a timely fashion is stressful and there are moments when I sit at my desk passionately wishing I could take a decade to refine my ideas before publishing. This is a luxury that has all but disappeared.

On the bright side, journalists are also feeling increasingly pressured to produce content quickly. It's just the way it is today. The Internet has its downside for those of us in the writing professions.

But, then, it also offers a support network. Moving on to fiction and next month is the beginning of NaNoWriMo. While it's American in origin, it's worth having a look at for those of you interested in writing novels. Authors like Neil Gaiman and Meg Cabot support it and even go on the journey. There are many tips available on the site. The important thing for creative writers is to write. This is the spirit of NaNoWriMo. I may even unofficially participate.


P. said...

Horace, Ars Poetica, 386–90:

Siquid tamen olim
scripseris, in Maeci descendat iudicis auris
et patris et nostras, nonumque prematur in annum
membranis intus positis; delere licebit
quod non edideris; nescit uox missa reuerti.

And when you write, let candid Metius hear,
Or try your labours on your father's ear,
Or even on mine; but let them not come forth
Till the ninth ripening year mature their worth.
You may correct what in your closet lies:
If published, it irrevocably flies.

Xena said...

Although the internet also makes the research process faster, especially for my type of project! I want to know what people said about an event that happened in August 2004, or June 2000, or something sometime in 2006, so I keyword search a newspaper database and I have every article at my fingertips in under a minute. And rather than having pesky paper filing systems I have nice neat computer ones I can also keyword search. Plus if I can't think of a reference, need to ask a question, or send a draft to any number of people to read through I can just email it and have an answer back in 24 hours without leaving my desk. Except when I require chocolate. Then again, procrastination required a bit more creativity when there weren't so many fun distractions only a mouse click away. Like writing blog contributions!!!