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Posts Tagged ‘webs’

Writing like a Spider

Monday, September 14th, 2009

Outside my window, a spider has built a small web. Curious, and looking for a bit of inspiration, I decided to watch the arachnid for awhile.

My conclusion? Spiders are lazy, inefficient, and just like most writers.

Before you get too offended, hear my explanation.

The spider in question built its web between the window screen and the glass. This spider sat for a long while–it remained still as long as I watched it, and when I checked a couple of hours later, the creature still sat in the same spot.

Apparently this spider (we’ll call it Susan, since I dislike the ambiguous pronoun it and, since it was sitting in a web, can be assumed to be likely female) had constructed her web, probably in the course of a morning, and decided to sit in it, waiting for some creature to stumble into the trap.

Yet, what was Susan doing as she sat in her web? While she may have been composing a new ballad or contemplating writing a sonnet on the difference in taste between crickets and grasshoppers, I have a feeling that she was simply sitting around, waiting for her meal. She also made no effort to capture the fly walking on the screen, even though the fly was just a few centimeters away. The big, juicy meal was within grasp, but because that meal required extra effort (it didn’t land in her web), Susan was not willing to reach out and catch it.

Why is Susan the spider’s behavior similar to the behavior of most writers?

Most writers make the mistake of waiting for inspiration to strike, complacently waiting for ideas to fall into their web. While waiting for ideas to strike, however, you may miss many opportunities, some of which are just hovering out of reach. What if Susan continued to build her web while she waited for something to fall into the trap? What if she had simply reached out and grabbed that fly?

During those idle periods between your great ideas, try something new. Try rewriting an old set of dialogue from a different character’s perspective. Look for that interesting story you thought of while working on something else (for example, a conversation between some of your characters mentioning another event that you think might be interesting).

Build your own web by preparing your mind…research the area you want to write in. The more you learn, the bigger your web is to catch those big ideas.

Build your catches by keeping everything you write. Even if you think the idea is a loss for now, you might be able to use the concept to catch a bigger, juicier fly later on.

Don’t be like Susan the spider. Keep working, keep moving, and keep growing as a writer.

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