I wrote a few months back about the level of Narrative Immersion amongst different mediums – books, television, film, video games – championing the depth and unique experience that the written word affords. I was concentrating on the effects of these forms when using them purely for leisure, but the specific focus I’ve placed on literature is in part due to reading books not just for diversion, but as an active process, always mindful of ways to improve my craft as a writer and how to remain open to inspiration.
As much as what you’re reading can influence any subsequent writing, I find staying largely within the realm of text helps me to dedicate more time to these distinctly lo-fi pursuits, avoiding being too saturated with moving image mediums to concentrate, or becoming too fixated with games or other highly involving activities. Reading and writing generate imagery from within the individual (although they can be tinged by external events happening at that moment – noise, the weather, people, etc), rather than receiving it from a projecting device.
Of course, I’m influenced by all things, but it’s the more static forms like art, objects, or powerful images from films, seemingly captured with a mental camera, that allow me to visualise them later, tinkering and contrasting with other images for effect. This leads to the composition of a few sentences, and thus a starting point. There’s also direct personal experiences and sensations, particularly specific moments and microscopic details. Sometimes I wonder about the authenticity of material inspired by these sources, compared to the real world counterpart, or what actually happened, but what is creative writing if not rendering what you see and feel into words, which is then liable to be interpreted differently by each reader? Hounding out the truth can sometimes seem pointless – this isn’t journalism, though that includes a fair bit of fiction these days.
Being able to impose your own prism on the world is vital to create original and humane art. It can allow you to feel competent enough to make a mark, and to be compelled to write. Which, as the universal frustration over blank pages shows, is everything.