I was thinking about this the other day as I shelved yet another writing advice book: Information only has value to the extent that you remember it or know where to find it.
There were some great passages of advice in Wonderbook by Jeff VanderMeer. My copy is full of little flags noting where there’s a great comment or quote or resource I should check out.
Problem is, I just put that book on my shelf and who knows when I’ll look at it next. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott was great, too. And On Writing by Stephen King. And Several Short Sentences About Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg. And Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card.
They ALL had great information in them. And each one is either flagged or underlined throughout.
But I can’t tell you right now what I flagged or underlined in any of them.
So, what value do those great passages have for me? Some have sunk their way into my unconscious and now will influence how I write or approach writing. But others comments probably require a few more readings to stick. Which means that, right now, those great passages have no value to me.
I should go through and pull all of that information into another document.
That’s why I have a 36-page-long quotes document after all–to store all the great quotes I’ve run across over the years.
(The latest one: “I sell my soul, but at the highest rates.”–Harlan Ellison)
But that takes time. Like everything else does. So, do I take hours to type up quotes from writing advice books or do I just hope that some of the key points stay with me and occasionally go back to the books and surprise myself with what I didn’t remember I’d already learned?
This also goes for story ideas. I’ve been trying to keep an ideas file where I record any idea or phrase that I think would be useful for my writing. Problem is, if I don’t go back and read the document, it doesn’t do me any good.
I printed it and read through it last week because I wanted to write one more teenage-oriented short story for one of the Quirky Quickies collections.
There were all kinds of interesting ideas in there that I’d completely forgotten about!
At least I know I have plenty of options if I ever get true writer’s block. (As opposed to writer’s ennui, which is what I seem to actually get.)
Anyway. Random thought for the day.
I really should be writing. My goal for this week is 20,000 words, so I need to get cracking on it.