Shaun Levin

The Writing Jam

In Writing on May 3, 2011 at 11:03 pm

Reading offers us possibilities. Reading reminds us that we don’t need to reinvent the wheel, that there are ways of doing things that are out there for us to imitate. A child cannot learn to talk without being spoken to, without hearing other voices. Those voices are essential to the formation and sound of their voice. No two individuals are exposed to the exact same voices and therefore no two voices are the same, even if two people were brought up from the same moment hearing the same voices they would not be the same because they are hearing each other’s voice, too. Read as much and as varied as you can, as diversely as you can, which is the equivalent of saying travel, make diverse friends, don’t worry if you don’t always understand what people are saying, don’t worry if it doesn’t feel like you’re taking anything in. Read frivolous stuff, too, and novels that sweep you up and carry you effortlessly through 200 pages, and those that make you work from line one. Become obsessed with writers, read everything they’ve ever written, one book after the next, interviews, stories, articles, whatever you can get your hands on, or find online, fill yourself with them, their story plots, their sentences, their ways of saying things.

The sentence. It all boils down to the sentence. Things to do with a sentence. To craft it. Things to do with a sentence. Like colour. Where to put it on the page. Change the words round. Some long sentences, some short. Use variety. Notice what your sentences look like on the page, and your paragraphs, and page by page. Always ask yourself: is there variety? Maybe this has something to do with rhythm and music… what could one take from music, to write and sing, to write without thinking, like improvising, jamming – how does one do that with writing? – because music often involves more than one person… what would be the equivalent in writing? How do you write together, make a piece of writing together… is that what theatre and the movies are about, writing a piece for more than one voice? But how to do that on the page. The jamming sessions. The jamming sessions.

There’s more to say about this, I’m sure.

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