She Reads South Asia


Monday, October 02, 2006

To Write or Not To Write

Talia started Round #7 of our AW Chain. She asked a very good question that all writers should ask of themselves - when should we STOP writing?

As a writer, I hope that time never comes when my writing has to cease. What would become of me if I were not able to express myself through the written word? To me writing has always been a major part of my persona, a stabilizing force in my life. But if my work or my readers suffered from it, I would definitely have to rethink the way in which my thoughts/ideas were being translated onto paper (literal or virtual).

A friend and fellow journalist recently offered some advice on what to do when our writing just isn’t what it should be. She was in the midst of writing a “very important story for a very important magazine” and was fretting over every word. Her photographer boyfriend came to the rescue with the answer. As she began to flip out with panic, he simply told her to “relax, lie down, close my eyes and just listen.”

“He then read the story out loud to me, word by word, sentence by sentence, slowly, clearly, unrushed. Hearing my story through his voice, I could see where it stumbled. I could hear the structure, the highs and the lows. The long sentences. The words, the rhythms. I could see how some passages were stronger than I’d intended. I saw where things fell flat. But most of all, as he read, I could hear what I’d written with distance and clarity. And it was good. Great, even. I stopped panicking. A few minutes later, I was able to smooth out the rough edges and send off the story with confidence.”

To find out the results of this exercise and subsequent story, please see Mridu’s blog post

Without giving it away, we’ll just say that I have taken her suggestion under advisement.

Another thing to do when getting frustrated to the point of giving up, try switching to another assignment and then come back to it; provided you’re not working under the threat of a serious deadline. Or if the type of writing or genre you’re working with simply “isn’t working”, try another one. To spice things up, try a subject you’ve never attempted before. You may just find out that you excel at it.

Or you can do something way out there like I did - co-write a Bollywood script with my writing partner. We thoroughly researched the subject that we wanted to explore. The result was a tri-cultural, semi-historical script, covering three generations, complete with song and dance sequences written in (now you know why Indian films tend to run about 3 hours long), which we hope will be accepted by a director/producer in India.

It took us over a year to complete and we had so much fun doing it. Of course we’ve also chosen which actresses and actors we want to take on the roles too. Whether or not that part materializes remains to be seen but we’re hopeful.

So I guess that would bring me to ask the question - Have you ever switched subjects/genres or written something else totally out of the ordinary for you?

Let’s see what our next linker (is that politically correct?) in the chain Gillian has to say about it.


  1. WOW! You wrote a bollywood script - good on you.

    I've decided if I write fiction that a writing partner would be the way to go. I'm sure it would make dialogue easier

    By the way - I agree that reading out loud is a good way to pick up where your writing works, and doesn't!

  2. Hey, the script sounds cool.

    The advice from your friend is excellent too - now, I just need to find myself a nice, sexy voice to read out what I write. ;)

  3. Good luck on the script! I hope it gets accepted and those big names jump on board as well. Boy, that will be a good day when that e-mail comes!

  4. Wow. I aggree that a script is very cool. Did you write actual music and lyrics or just discribe what the production numbers would be.

  5. Woot! way to go Sim. As for swapping genre's that's what I love about Quids Flash Fiction Friday..she pushes me in directions I don't always want to go in

  6. I do the reading-aloud thing when I can face it. I wonder if I face it long enough if I could write a Bollywood script? I bet not. Please keep us informed on the fate of yours - this is a movie I want to see.

  7. Um, bk30, just wait until I start in on switching genres. I'm thinking a paranormal mystery might be good... Or how 'bout a fantasy western with the main character a janitor? *smirk* Yes, I'm seriously considering those....

    Writing a script can be a valuable experience in terms of learning to write dialogue well. Good for you!

  8. Wow! When the movie will come out? Congratulations on your success.

  9. I read everything out loud. Sometimes I'll actually record it and play it back a couple days later.

    Though I think getting someone else to read it to you is the best idea.

    Is there a part in your movie for a thirty-something dude from Arizona?

  10. Reading aloud is a great idea. I know sometimes I end up a bit blind to the actual words I've put on the page and end up seeing what I meant to write rather than what I've actually written. Reading it aloud makes me look at the actual words - sometimes it makes me cringe, but definitely worth it. (and that Bollywood script sounds like it was a lot of fun!).

  11. It's fun to try out a new genre once in a while. Best of luck with the script. :)

  12. Thanks Talia. Yeah we had a blast doing it too. It was a little easier picturing our favorite Bollywood star in the lead though. ;-) Yep, a partner is the way to go. I agree with you on reading out loud too. Good advice from Mridu!

    Thanks Cath. LOL Yes, me too. Must call Shahrukh Khan up I think. ;-)

    Thanks Kappa. I hope it does too. Yes it will and I’ll be sure to share it with all of you at AW!

    Thanks Brian. We wrote the lyrics as neither of us writes the actual music.

    Thanks BK. Yep, it sure does that!

    The fun part of reading the script out loud Gillian is that you get to act it out as well. And that can become real crazy. I will certainly keep you informed. Special viewing for AW members. ;-) Thanks.

    Uh oh, sounds like your onto something Laurie. Thanks Laurie

    When? When SRK gets off his butt and produces it! LOL Thanks Razib!

    Good ideas Matt. I'll see if we can find a part for you sure! Thanks.

    Yep, you're right Peggy. And yes, it was a lot of fun. Thanks.

    Sure is Kelly. Thanks.