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  • Writer's pictureegradcliff

Why NOT Writing is Good for My Writing

Updated: Apr 24, 2020

As an author, I sure do a lot that isn’t writing.

While writing is, and will never cease to be, my predominant source of creative output, I find it helpful to vary my ventures. In terms of creative endeavors aside from writing, visual art takes up the most of my time.

Now, I am not the most talented artist. I will never pretend to be. Even so, it’s something that I enjoy not only because it’s relaxing, but because there’s something about turning an image in my head--I think in pictures more than words, oddly enough--into something visible that really helps solidify ideas.

There are a few reasons why I think it’s helpful to me to vary the form of my output. First, it helps me clarify my thoughts about my story. For as long as I’m working on a particular drawing, I’m thinking about the subject of that drawing. When I was drawing Ninian (from The Hidden King) fighting with the staff, for example, I was thinking about where he would have gotten a staff--did he take it from his opponent? Will he use it in later fights? Is it a weapon with which he has practice, or is he improvising as he goes? And his opponent--who is it? Is he even actively fighting someone, or is he just training? These kinds of questions tend to turn up answers that help me learn more about my characters, their world, and the minutiae which so helpfully flesh out the narrative. Drawing is like meditating, focusing solely on the subject of my art.

The second reason is that writer’s block is real. There are times when I just stare at the page, knowing exactly what needs to happen and yet struggling to put down any words. Maybe I’m overtired, maybe I’m just not in the right headspace, but for whatever reason, there are times I simply cannot write. But writing is very different from drawing. Even if I can’t seem to write, somehow I can always draw. This helps, because I can forge ahead mentally and still end up with a tangible result.

Making music helps me in much the same way, though music works by letting me concentrate on emotional content rather than character and setting traits. Whether it’s the lyrics, the key, or the pace of the song, I can tailor the sound to express a feeling, a state of mind. Though the subject may not be directly relevant, I can concentrate on the emotion involved, and relate it to my writing.

For me, the authorial process is not straightforward--it’s certainly more than typing words. Having other ways to create is important to ensure I can continue to devote myself to writing, my one true love.

E.G. RADCLIFF IS AN INCURABLE WRITER and lifelong imaginer of worlds. An insatiable reader and researcher with a penchant for all things Celtic and a love of the mysterious and magical, she brings a knowing touch to her Young Adult fiction.

She enjoys adventure, reading on the train, and dreams about flying.

She is a Chicago native and is based in Illinois.

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