Daily Writing Tip 53 of 100, Working Habits

For one hundred days, I’m going to post a writing tip each day. I have a whole bookshelf full of writing books and I want to do some reading and increased studying of this valuable resource. This will help me keep track of anything I’ve learned, and help motivate me to keep going. If anyone has a favorite tip of their own to add, contact me. I’d love to put it up here.

Today’s tip – Working Habits

Source – The Basic Formulas Of Fiction by Foster-Harris

What you have to do is something probably far different from anything you ever did in school. You have to realize that your mind is like a mirror with two surfaces: a shiny, reflecting, front surface, and a dark surface deep down behind

You have been taught to use mainly the bright, shallow, front surface. Do you remember how many times you memorized in school what you thought would be asked in the examinations, remembered it just long enough to get it down on the examination paper, and then, an hour later, could not recall anything that you wrote? Well, that which worked was your intellect, your surface mind. But what you have to do in writing is evoke images from deep down in the dark surface of your subconscious. You know, like in the trick mirrors in which strange images will appear if you breathe upon them just right?

This book was written in 1944 and is geared to someone writing for pulps, I guess (not that there is anything wrong with that) – and Foster-Harris (his first name does not appear in the book) comes across as dated and shopworn. But I suspect that there is a lot of truth here – basic and useful. Sometimes all that dated means is that it is a foundation, rather than a flourish.

And we all need a strong foundation.