Let It a Suck Series: Joyce Carol Oates and Running Through Your Story Revisited

Continuing a re-share of some earlier blogs that fit the “Let It Suck” Series, here’s some great advise for writing and planning.

Years ago, I attended the South Hampton Writers Conference, and one of the best speakers there was Joyce Carol Oates. What a sight; she looks like a prettier version of Olive Oil and writes with such constant quality and voluminous output that I really wanted to know her secret.

To my shock, she told all of us up front.

Joyce Carol Oates said a key to her productivity is that she she runs. Yeah, runs. More than that, she watches a movie as she runs.

No, she’s not on some treadmill viewing The Godfather for the fortieth time. Oates watches “the movie of the book I’m writing, from beginning to end.” Even more interestingly, she claims she doesn’t start writing that particular book until she can watch the movie from beginning to end without glitches during a run.

The idea is unique, magical and sensible all at the same time. Not many writers use running as a visualization tool. Fewer require themselves to be able to “view” their entire project mentally prior to beginning to write. However, the power and confidence that would give a writer is stunningly sensible.

Oates’ spectacularly interior planning method has stayed with me all these years, and while i don’t run through my books like she does hers, I do let them simmer and emerge in my noggin while prepping to write them. Many a time my wife will discuss with me some family matter while I’m off with my detectives Mallory and Gunner chasing a suspect or dodging bullets. By the time I return to the present, she’s already smirking at me and gracefully starts over.

I hope the exquisite Ms. Oates and her method inspires some of you as she does me.

Christopher Ryan is author of City of Woe, available on Kindle and Nook, and in print. For more info, click here.

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About chrisryanwrites

My name is Christopher Ryan. I am a former award-winning journalist turned high school teacher, and I have written since reading S.E. Hinton's THE OUTSIDERS when I was in elementary school. I have independently published an award-winning debut novel, CITY OF WOE, plus the prequel short story collection CITY OF SIN, the sequel novel CITY OF PAIN, a high school thriller novel GENIUS HIGH, and several high adventure novelettes for the Rapid Reads series featuring Alex Simmons' African-American adventurer BLACKJACK All are available via amazon.com, as is my children's book, THE FERGUSON FILES - THE MYSTERY SPOT. Additionally, I was nominated for a supporting actor award for my work in the multiple award-winning independent film, CLANDESTINE, from Feenix Films. I blog about writing, life, pop culture, the journey of learning to promote my independently published work, my efforts to secure a traditional publishing contract, and my career as a teacher.
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2 Responses to Let It a Suck Series: Joyce Carol Oates and Running Through Your Story Revisited

  1. Margaret Reinold says:

    Everything we have today, started as an idea or vision. Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish the difference between “real” or “imagined” (as demonstrated in PTSD sufferers). Out of the Ethers comes these “things” we call forth -through the energy we put forth. I think it’s amazing that she incorporates her body in this process. She keeps it “busy” while her Mind takes off to Create. But she is certainly generating a lot of Energy as well – so when she’s done running – she’s clear to “download” the story or idea. Good for Ms. Oates! Rock On! 🙂

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