Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hong Kong Days

I'm back in Hong Kong, teaching writing classes and running professional sessions again for Women in Publishing. This is a city like no other, and it always seems to take me a couple of days to get used to the different atmosphere and pace. Out on the streets, it's always busy - more people around at 11pm than in the middle of the day in Melbourne. I keep forgetting most shops and businesses don't open until 10am so while it's busy here, it doesn't pay to get an early start. You'll be the only one!

I've been reading Craig Harper's posts while I'm away, and one this week about changing your view of "normal" has struck home. I am down the Causeway Bay end of the island, and catch trams everywhere. They are tall and skinny, and there is always one just around the corner, but I tend to know where to get off by the landmarks - buildings, shops, signs. Today I boarded a very full tram and decided to go up to the top so it would be less crowded. The trouble was, everything looked completely different from up there! It took me ages to work out where I was - for a few minutes I thought I was going the wrong way.

So in one tram ride, I was forced to look at the world from a different point of view (literally) and it was interesting, to say the least. It made me think about how that can be applied to so many things. We look at them in a certain way, as a habit, because it's either what we're used to, or it simply doesn't occur to us to try it from a new vantage point. That's happening with the revision I am doing on my novel right now - forcing myself to use a completely different method is helping me to look at my writing in a much more critical way, and leading to the kinds of changes and improvements that somehow I'd never been able to achieve before.

I could apply this to exercise as well. I don't jog. Never have. It probably goes back to school, when I was overweight and under-confident. Now I am giving it a go, and finding I don't look ridiculous (the treadmill has a mirror in front of it that I can't avoid). And instead of watching the screen that tells me how far I have jogged, which was depressing me, now I look at the clock and measure progress by time.

What can you change about the way you write or revise? If you're doing NaNo for the first time, you might already have seen what a new approach can do for you. But we should never assume that the way we write is the only way that works, and the same goes for the way we revise and rewrite. It's like taking your notebook or laptop to a cafe instead of staying home all the time. Maybe ask your writer friends how they approach creating characters, or revision, or plotting, and try their method for a change. As Craig says, step away from "normal" and see what happens.

1 comment:

Kristi Holl said...

Good post! I think that looking at things from a new angle is the only thing that will keep us young. Certain things I won't change--they're non-negotiable. But most things can benefit from a different perspective. (Like I DO look ridiculous when I run now--so we run before sun up. Everyone looks better in dim light.)
Kristi Holl
Writer's First Aid blog