Monday, March 21, 2016

Writing: Sewing a gown or painting a picture?

I love this post - and image - by ProWritingAid 
Guest Blogger Wynsum Wise about

Are You a Couture Writer? Or a Word Spewer?

They had asked us about future themes for blog entries and her complain that everything writerly appeared so focused on production instead of creating led to her image of creating a couture gown for the reader. It is unusual - and fitting.
For me alas it's more like painting a picture - that can be one dimensional or three dimensional. Remember "Mary Poppins"? Where Dick jumps into the picture and they become part of his painted world? That's my goal in writing! That the reader eventual is sucked into the picture created by my words, that it becomes reality for the time reading. But whether it is a gown fitted to the reader or a picture-frame - as long as it fits snugly so they never fall "out" we have done something right! 

Here's the post:

Enjoy the Process: A Lesson from Learning Couture

You’re a writer, right? Me too! Fairy tales and happy endings were my escape from a nasty childhood. I also love to sew because, once upon a time, I was too small to find adult clothing in my size. I’m going to tell you about a lesson I learned from learning to sew couture.
For those who are not fashionistas, couture is custom clothes making. The term implies high-quality. Haute Couture is the top-rung of couture. Think Chanel and Christian Dior.

Are you a couture writer? Or a Word Spewer?First, let’s talk about writing a little.

Words, words, words. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is all about words. Good words, trash words, words, words, words! The goal is a certain number of words by the end of the time period.
In the beginning, I bought into this hype. Get those words out and worry about cleaning and polishing later. The underlying message is that putting words to paper is daunting, something a writer is forced to do. I personally found word-spewing to be a chore.

Let’s go back to sewing.

I define sewing as the cutting and binding of fabrics with thread to create items.
Tailored jackets are my thing. Sewing one can be time-consuming and difficult because of the complexity in putting together the many parts. I used modern sewing techniques, which in essence are cutting from a pattern, pinning edges together, and running the edges through a machine.
When I made a jacket, I rushed through because my goal was to have a finished jacket. I didn’t enjoy cutting, pinning, and stitching because my mind was on finishing the jacket. Isn’t that what a goal-oriented person does --- shoot for the goal?
To ramp up my skills, I bought a book on couture. (Couture Sewing Techniques by Clair B. Shaeffer) Couture was the traditional way of sewing until the sewing machine was invented. It emphasizes hand stitching and attention to teeny details. To sew couture, you must not be in a hurry.

Back to writing --- what is writing? Words? A story?

No. It’s a process. Words make phrases, and phrases are stitched together to make what I term a “narrative package.” A “narrative package” encompasses fiction, non-fiction, poetry, reports, etc.
Words are the raw fabric: weave, knit, or bonded leather. We cut and combine words into phrases, and the phrases are the pieces that you stitch to reach your goal of the narrative package.
Techniques writers use may be classified into three broad categories:
If you don’t know or understand writing techniques, you can learn them.
Here’s what you bring as a writer, a sewer of phrases, that cannot be taught.
  • experience
  • perseverance
  • ability to acquire new knowledge
  • creativity
I diagrammed the process below. As a writer, the most fun should be in the white bubble.
The couture writing process

“OMG,” you say. “Wynsum, you are doing a Socrates and over-analyzing something I already know.”Yeah, I’m a pain that way. But the exciting part comes in looking at the process in a different way.
You can pin and stitch your narrative package together, or you can slow down and stitch couture. I’m not saying everyone must abandon word-spewing. Some need the motivation, and that’s okay. Many writers, however, could benefit from slowing down, moving away from only focusing on your goal, and living more in the process. In this way, you give yourself the space and time to learn, improve, experiment, and grow. Your quality will improve. You will make time to write because you will not treat writing as a chore. You may even reach the end goal more quickly.
I really enjoy these parts of writing:
  • understanding techniques of the past and allowing my character to express her/himself through historical ways of doing things,
  • searching for the perfect word or phrase in English and other languages,
  • experimenting with punctuation and literary devices such as alliteration and rhyme,
  • discovering symbolism my unconscious mind creates and developing the symbolism, and
  • investigating how other cultures viewed themselves and were viewed by others, thereby enriching and improving the accuracy of my storyworld
I challenge you to be a couture writer and enjoy the process.
What do you enjoy about your writing process?
How can you have more fun in the process?