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Driving at Night

“Writing is like driving at night. You can see only as far as the headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” ― E.L. Doctorow

Some of you may already know that my educational background is not in creative writing or literature. It could be that you know because you know me personally, or it may be that you can tell from my actual writing! Whatever the case, I’m thankful to those who bear with me as I continually attempt to sharpen my creative writing skills.

In college, I studied biology. Good research is conducted in an open-ended fashion, but when scientists report their findings, they are writing about what is already known and attempting to do so as accurately as possible. Scientific reports are notoriously dry (sorry scientists), and I’ve read and written my fair share of dusty research reports. It is just not a format where a lot of creativity comes into play, and there is no emphasis within the field on improving readability. Now all of that is just my opinion, take it with a grain of salt.

One of the main challenges that I had to overcome when I began writing Dunnigan was not knowing the outcome beforehand. I started drafting, and created character profiles, but I really had no idea where those characters would take me. I had more than one writer tell me that I should prepare to live the story right along with my characters, but I was definitely not prepared! It was intense, and my heart was right there in it with them.

It was an experience like no other, one I very much hope to have again. Doctorow spoke truly– writing IS like driving at night! At times you cannot yet see the landscape that shapes the contour of the road. You cannot see what lies beyond the reach of your lights, but you press on, focusing only on what is right in front of you while trying to stay between the lines. Maybe– just maybe, creative writing is actually just a lot like life. So press on, focus on what is in front of you, and stay true to the path.

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