Be True

“I think so much of writing is about the courage to express ourselves, to be true to our own voice, to find our vision, our voice, and put it out there. Also, allow yourself too write badly in the beginning. That’s good tried and true advice. And then let it evolve as you rewrite.”
Sue Monk Kidd

Author of The Secret Life of Bees, her highly acclaimed debut novel set in the South in the 196o’s, Sue’s most recent novel, The Invention of Wings, is set in 19th century South Carolina and focuses on the lives of the Grimke sisters, legendary abolitionists. In an interview in The Writer magazine (August, 2015), she talked about her writing process:

Incubating ideas: “An idea comes to me from the inside out, and I will play with it. If I play with it awhile and it really starts to sprout a story, then I know it’s a novel I can really write.” The Secret Life of Bees started with the image of a girl lying in bed and bees flying around the room. Her imagination took off and she “just played with it fro a long time, and it really started to create a story.” For more on how her novel evolved, see Help Found.”

Writing strategy: Sue likes to let her ideas simmer, but once she starts writing, a disciplined approach kicks in: “I keep banker’s hours. I work every day, immersed in the whole thing, really working with my craft in a disciplined way but allowing for spontaneous, mysterious inspiration to come.”

Inciting questions: “My novels usually start with two questions: ‘Who is my character?’ ‘What does my character want?’ The whole story will flow out of the answers I’m able to bring to those two questions.”

Researching: Sue did about six months of research before she began writing The Invention of Wings — traveling to historic sties, reading primary sources and biographies. “In writing a historical novel, detail is everything. You want to create this authentic world where readers can feel lie they can see it, feel it, hear it.”

Revision: I rewrite as I go. It’s a slower process, but somehow that works best for me. I allow myself to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite a chapter, and then I have a certain moment when I realize that yes, now, it’s exactly what I want it to be and I can go on.”

Wow — fascinating revision approach, isn’t it? Something to ponder and play with as we all write on.

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About karinwritesdangerously

I am a writer and this is a motivational blog designed to help both writers and aspiring writers to push to the next level. Key themes are peak performance, passion, overcoming writing roadblocks, juicing up your creativity, and the joys of writing.
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