The dreamer versus the observer

I like to talk to other writer’s about their approach to the craft. It goes without saying that, as in life, there are a diverse number of ways a person can tackle the art of writing. There are those who plan their plot to the last detail, those who have a vague idea of what’s going to happen. Then there are writers who research a plot to death before they let their characters loose, others who sift through information along the way, or maybe a combination of the two.  When it comes down to the nitty gritty, some are disciplined, some get ‘taken-over’ by the story and don’t surface for days, and some (perhaps you could say a lucky few), can switch off in any place, at any time.

It may sound like stating the obvious, but I’m fascinated by the process. For me it feels like the whole act is beyond my control – like a little writer elf lives inside my soul and chuckles with glee as soon as my pen hits the page! However it works, I’m sure it is almost always liberating.

There is one thing I’d like to explore a little more, and that’s whether it’s easier to be a dreamer or an observer when it comes to creating a tale. If writing styles are diverse, then people are, by definition, a rich and varied bunch. I’m sure personality has a lot to do with our ability to string a sentence together, but here’s an interesting question. Does a dreamer observe the world, storing it away for the stories they weave, without even knowing they’re doing it? or does the observer live in a land of dreams as soon as they start to work with the ‘people’ in their head.

Anyway, those are my thoughts of today.

Thanks, as always.

Until next time



One Comment

Hi Mark, you raise an interesting issue. I remember listening to a radio broadcast some years ago with a famous female author – can’t remember her name though, but she had just won a major Literary Prize. The interviewer suggested that she must plot the course of her books carefully – setting a strategy in effect – before actually settling down to write. Quite the contrary was the response – “I sit at my desk and begin writing. My imagination takes me through the story, it frees me from constraints.”
At the time I was just messing about with the idea of writing fiction in any spare moments. Eventually, I started. Perhaps I was just lazy, no overall strategy, just wrote as it came to me. Naively I started sending the manuscript to agents and publishers – nil result! My first novel took about six years – writing a bit here and there – refining and finally found an editor and proof reader who knocked my efforts into shape. The ‘bug’ had got me by then, I wanted to write more, my first book became the first part of a trilogy which was finally completed and released last year through my own publishing company. A fourth book emerged last July; now I’m heads down on my next – be nice to make some money though!
I think that to write directly out of one’s mind requires sound observational skills and a real knowledge about the subject matter on which the novel is based – particularly in the early stages of writing. Imagination adds the colour and the writer’s uniqueness and perspective. Inevitably some research is required but I find this only adds to the ‘excitement’ of ‘writing direct’.
I’m told by my editor that my writing has improved with each offering – it’s been a steep but enjoyable curve.
The other option open to novel writers is the infinite range of genres that can offer stimulation to the imagination and help to develop writing skills.
But, I can’t imagine setting a structure for a book at the outset, it would not suit my temperament however I am too well aware that is how many authors work – and with great success.
As for dreamers – yes, I do store ideas, usually small gems, away for future use.

Best wishes


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