During my PhD studies, I took an entire course on concept analysis. I almost wanted to die during this course. It wasn’t that the course was difficult; instead, it was rather abstract. In the course, we picked a concept (e.g., risk) and examined the literature using a systematic process to understand the concept from multiple angles (If you want to bore yourself to tears, you can view my PowerPoint I created based on a paper I published on a Concept Analysis: Health Promoting School on You Tube.). I’ll spare you the details, but as a writer, we use words to build sentences that tell a story. For example, do you get a different mental image if I use the word hurt versus pain or anguish? Of course you do! Words are important. They can create a distinct image in your head. My son had a writing assignment for school that he recently brought home. The assignment was based on the first three pages of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Here is a sentence from the excerpt: “He could smell the child: a milky smell, like chocolate chip cookies, and the sour tang of wet, disposable, nighttime diaper.” Wow! Does that not paint a crystal clear picture of this toddler, simulating multiple of your senses? How did he do that? Words!
Each word is very important in storytelling, but how do we decide which words to use? I believe it takes practice, but I also think it’s important to really understand words. I’m also a visual person; therefore, I thought I would begin examining words from the literature and posting the review in a word cloud. This will help me and hopefully you visual the true meaning of the word in a snapshot.
The first word that came to my mind was WRITER. Why not? What makes a writer? Why do we write?
I could have used thousands of resources to understand the concept of “writer,” but instead, I selected quotes on writing from 14 well-known authors with different writing styles. The quotes are shown below. When viewing the word cloud, the first word the “pops” out is WRITE. Well, it better! Being a writer means butt in the chair and hands on the keyboard probably more than anything else. The second word that really stands out is READ. Stephen King said it best, “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.” A few more words that stand out include, DREAMS, LIVE, and LIFE. I loved these words because I believe that you should pursue your dreams, if it is in writing or whatever you are passionate about. When you fight for your dream, you live and are full of life. A few strong words that stand out to me include, DOWN, CLAMPED, and BLEED. Heh, no one said that pursuing your dream would be easy. At least we know we are not alone. In summary, according to the quotes from well-known authors, I believe a writer writes, reads, dreams, lives, can be down, and bleeds.
Author Quotes on Writing (in no particular order):
Nelly Arcan: “Disappointment is like a rat with its row of teeth clamped over our dreams of omnipotence serves as a vicious reminder of the ugly struggle to reach our perceived ideal.”
Stephen King: “Writing is telepathy.”
Stephen King: “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.”
C.S. Lewis: “Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.”
Jodi Picoult: It’s a way of puzzling out answers to situations in the world that I don’t understand.”
Roald Dahl: “A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom.”
Ernest Hemingway: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
William Faulkner: “Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”
William Faulkner: “Writing is one-third imagination, one-third experience, and one third observation.”
Mark Twain: “If the writer doesn’t sweat, the reader will.”
John Green: “Writing, or at least good writing, is an outgrowth of that urge to use language to communicate complex ideas and experiences between people.”
James Dashner: “Write, write, write. Everytime you do, you will improve.”
Alice Hoffman: “All the characters in my books are imagined, but all have a bit of who I am in them – much like the characters in your dreams are all formed by who you are.”
Alice Hoffman: “No one knows how to write a novel until it’s been written.”
Shannon Hale: “Writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”
Sarah Addison Allen: “I think my characters are more wish fulfillments than they are mirrors. They see things I don’t and live in a world I can only enter through words.”
J.K. Rowling: “The most important thing is to read as much as you can, like I did. It will give you an understanding of what makes good writing and it will enlarge your vocabulary.”