Hi Faralas,

Thanks for the reply. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Yes, I did make the list up myself, but that's not to say I didn't shamelessly absorb the ideas from somewhere else. I just can't remember from where. So I can't say how much, if any, counts as 'original' thought. I think that a great many of the facts and ideas that we store over the years come from outside. We then have the chance to make a new type of cake from ingredients that have mostly been known for generations. Few of us ever invent flour. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/winkwink.gif" alt="" /> Or, as Wilson Mizner said, "If you steal from one author it's plagiarism. If you steal from many it's research".

In general I'm a great fan of the 'learning by doing' method, and that's how I tackle writing. Over the years I've applied the same approach to many other projects too. For instance, I designed and built the house I now live in. To do so I had to learn something like 15 different trades or professions, none of which I was trained in. Some went slowly, such as hand making all the doors and windows the old fashioned way with mortices, tenons and wedges (final count 210 panes of glass). Other skills were more easily picked up.

But I learned all of the necessary skills by pulling apart and studying what others had done before, either figuratively or literally, and then practising the tasks until I was competent. I worked on a demolition crew and pulled old houses apart. I also watched craftsmen at work. Then I added my own flavour to the houses I built. The first two sold in less than a week after I put them on the market. Original designs done in a traditional way seem to sell easily. The third we have kept.

I love acquiring new information, new knowledge, new skills and of course new friends. But I won't bore you with the very long list of other things that I've done by simply saying to myself "I'd like to try that, so how is it done?", and then prodding, poking, questioning, and crawling underneath things until I understand.

Which brings me to another tip PAY ATTENTION! No matter how old you are, the more you know the more you realise how just how much more there is to know. A writer can easily spend far too much time internalising and wandering round their own mind. So don't forget to engage with the world; and while you're at it - pay attention to what's happening around you. It's your bricks and timber.

Years ago I joined a local writer's centre. Within the first few hours I was pressed into service to clear up the centre's garden (which I did), was instantly but reluctantly elected to the committe, and was then set the task of enduring several hours worth of other writers droning on about their grand struggle with writing. I tiptoed away and never went back. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

One day I really must do a course in writing, but in the meantime I just write instead. I'll never be a Shakespeare, but I've seen more than enough of my words in print to know that I can often get it right. I've also had the priceless joy of standing quietly at the back of a full theatre listening to an audience laughing and clapping at the words I'd written and the characters I'd created.

The above happens to be all true, but one of the wonderful things about writing is that, hey, I could have just made the whole thing up. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif" alt="" />