The Inaugural EU-China International Literary Festival
The Writer’s Life——Is there a Secret Formula for Becoming a Good Writer?
Are there quick habits that make you a good writer?
The Bookworm, Nov 23th，8:00pm
Writers: Lu Min (China), Shuang Xuetao (China), Paolo Colagrande （Italy），Marius Burokas （Lithuania）
Article by Poornima Weerasekara
Poets and novelists are at times seen as “eccentric beings,” looking out the window at the passing traffic, waiting for inspiration to strike. But some have developed conscious habits that allow them to catch those ideas or persist with the lonely and strenuous process of writing.
For Lithuanian poet and literary journal editor Marius Burokas, its taking long walks to “catch the rhythm of a poem.”
Award-wining Chinese novelist Lu Min says she listens to her favorite playlist again and again, which allows her to withdraw into an inner sanctum and not get disturbed by family distractions “like my child asking for water or my mother pestering me to eat some fruits.”
Can specific places or objects trigger your imagination more than others?
Again for Burokas, its being in “art galleries with big, ancient canvasses.” The colors, the shadows and the somber mood in a gallery makes his imagination run faster, he said.
For Lu Min, life is her laboratory and inspiration. “Any detail in life, any experience can be turned into a story,” she says.
Italian novelist Paolo Colagrande echoes this view saying “a writer can borrow any detail from life and create a new world with it.”
“But for this a writer has to go through the painful process of being like an acrobat always on the trapeze, never getting off even when the circus performance is over. Because everything we do in life is connected to our writing, every experience, everything that we observe,” he added.
If writing is an “all-consuming” task like what Colagrande said, can author’s ever strike a work-life balance? Would aspiring authors, who depend on a day job to make money while trying to write, have to choose one or the other?
Writing is an artform where you are “working while resting and resting while working,” said Lu Min. “So, the boundary between life and work, work and play are blurred. We are working all the time. But I like to put a distance between myself and work because every sculptor or artist has to take a step back and view their work from a distance to see its flaws.”
“I struggled for several years until I caught my first break,” said award-winning novelist Shuang Xuetao, who quit his day as a bank clerk to embark on a writing career. “My advice to young writers is not to push themselves too hard, take it easy and go live your life first, without delving straight into the writing process. If you haven’t lived enough, you don’t have enough experiences to draw inspiration from.”
What does a writer’s life look like, behind the scenes, when they are not in the spotlight?
“You (the public) always see us sitting on a podium, discussing books and ideas, but this isn’t what our real life looks like,” said Lu Min. “We are fought with the same anxieties, the same fears as you are. But we try to dig deeper and find some beauty in it. So, a writer’s life is full of contradictions. We need to morph ourselves into many things, without losing ourselves.”