Saturday, May 4, 2013

Non-fiction Writing

As a writer, I write a lot of “fiction,” pieces inspired by the world around me that are full of imagery and imagination. But as  a student of the Old Ways, I am often led to read and write scholarly essays on a variety of topics. I am finding that these projects have made me a better fiction writer. 

Writing non-fiction has gotten a bad rep as a “boring” pass-time, and while I agree that writing non-fiction can be the equivalent of an artist drawing an apple on a table for the thirtieth time, it is a useful endeavor. When the subject matter is not interesting*, the writer must rely upon skill to engage readers. It is here that we most often  explore and expand the horizons of our writing styles, vary our sentence structures, and find new, descriptive ways  to speak of old and often mundane things. Inspiration cannot be allowed to deviate our work from the factual subject matter as it does with more expository writing, but it may be used in more subtle ways to explore the connections between the lines of our research. Non-fiction writing also teaches us how to make our points clear and concise: something many writers desperately need to learn.

One of the happy advantages of non-fiction writing prompts, those essay questions we all used to groan at when we were in school, is that these are useful tools when the Writer’s Block has fallen atop our work. Sometimes, like drawing an apple on a table, writing about something mundane is just what we need to get the imagination flowing and break through the dams keeping us from creating. In short, when you can’t figure out what to write, start writing about something you know. Even if that something is just a recap of your day. The imagination will take over once it awakens from the noise of your pen.
Write. About anything and everything. View the world through your pen. You never know what you will discover.

*interesting being a matter of subjective opinion.