How Writers Work: Finding a Process That Works
Recently I visited a fourth grade classroom. When I walked in, one girl stared at me, totally star-struck.
“I’ve never met a real live author before,” she said.
“Have you met any dead ones?” I joked. But I understood what she meant. When I was in school, I had no idea how books came into the world. Maybe the librarian wrote them! Authors were just names on the spine of a book. I never thought that writers might be real, live, buttered-toast-for-breakfast kind of people like you or me.
It’s misleading to think of writers as special creatures, word sorcerers who possess some sort of magic knowledge hidden from everyone else. Writers are ordinary people who like to write. They feel the urge to write, and scratch that itch every chance they have. Writers get their ideas down on paper using particular strategies that seem to work for them. These strategies are available to anyone who wants to be a writer.
While I was visiting that same classroom, one boy raised his hand to ask me a question.
“I read your book Fig Pudding,” he said. “It was sad when Brad died.” He paused and gave me a hard look. “But then I realized: You wrote the book. You made him die. Why did you make him die?”
An important moment! For the first time, it had occurred to him that books don’t get hatched out of thin air. Books are written by people who make hundreds of decisions about how to shape their texts. When you write, you, too, will have countless decisions to make: what subject to choose, how to plan and begin, which words to choose, what changes to make, etc.
Readers should prepare themselves for another important moment, for in the introduction to this book I intend to reveal The Secret Of Writing. I hope you are reading carefully because The Secret Of Writing may surprise you: There is no secret. But there is a process. If you like to write, there are definite steps you can take to help you reach your goals.
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