No holds barred. No rules. It’s Friday, so we don’t have to stay on topic. We can talk about whatever we want today. We can even just make it up as we go along, which is what fiction writers do anyhow. Today we have a guest blog by Ellie Ann Soderstrom, one of my favorite writers.
Why Every Writer Should Come From A Big Family
When you have eleven people in one house doing eleven different things at the same time—you have to learn how to tune out distractions. If you wandered off after every distraction there was around you, you’d never get anything done.
There was a constant stream of games starting, non-stop conversations going on, and a steady battery of chores to do. Plus, all of my siblings learned an instrument, which means that piano, violin, or bagpipe practice was basically always going on in the background.
As a writer, you need to be able to tune out distractions if you want to get your work done. That’s why I suggest that if you want to be a writer you should come from a big family.
2. Fast thinking Fast Talking
When the whole family sat down at the dinner table you had to act quick if you wanted to a.) get seconds of mashed potatoes b.) say something during a break in conversation. Since there were seven talkative, opinionated, crazy girls in the house, there was rarely a break in the conversation. But you learned how to formulate ideas and words in your head as you “listened” to the others around you and once they took a breath, you’d say your piece. If you didn’t have your words ready, no one waited for you to formulate them.
This has really helped me as a writer. I almost always have something to say about something, even if I don’t know very much about that something. If there’s a break in the conversation, I can talk. So as I’m writing, it’s taught me to write through empty pages, it’s taught me to be able to articulate what’s going on in my brain, and it taught me how to do it quickly. So once again, I urge you writer, to try to be born into a big family.
Oh my word. The Chores. I must capitalize Chores because they’re their own giant entity in my childhood memories. When my siblings were still infants, we did 4 loads of laundry every day. If you were on dishes duty, you cleaned at least 44 eating utensils after every meal, not counting cooking utensils. We lived on a farm and had during the course of my childhood 2 horses, 2 heifers, dozen chickens, 6 peacocks, 2 dogs, packs of farm cats, snake, lizard, cockatiel, beta fish, and a naked mole rat which all had to be fed and watered. We had a huge yard that needed mowed. And we had a ginormous vegetable garden that we tilled, fertilized, planted, weeded, mulched, harvested, and then canned/froze the vegetables every year. There was always a Chore to be done whether you wanted to or not.
Just like writing, there are things to be done whether you want to or not. Don’t like writing the synopsis? Too bad. You have to write it. Hate waking up early but that’s the only time you have to write? Suck it up. Wake up early because that’s the only way you’ll finish your book. Putting off writing those query letters? Just do it. It won’t get any easier the longer you wait. Chores helped prepare me to do things daily that I don’t like doing. Over and over and over again. So I suggest that every writer should come from a family that gives lots of Chores.
I woke up and spent every day with ten other living, growing personalities. Everyone reacts to bad test scores differently. They treat their pets differently. They enjoy different weather, different days of the week, different styles, different food, even sat in chairs differently. Though we’d been raised in the same environment and had many of the same mannerisms, we were each so different. I got to compare personalities. I saw individuals.
When you start to see people as being quite different from each other, yet part of the same whole, you start to see character. Once you start to see character, you’ll be able to write character (with a lot of practice). That’s why I suggest to all of you writerlings try to come from a big family.