Viewing the World as a Writer

By Sean Curley

As part of my efforts to publish a professional-level book independently, I went back to school at the University of Denver for a graduate degree in Creative Writing. One of the concepts school tried to teach me was to view the world as a writer. I didn’t understand that for a long time. However, as my craft grew I began to see the nuances in writing all around me. I had just not been paying attention.

One key moment for me was while I was sitting at a Sting concert one evening. He was playing at the Red Rocks Amphitheater (the best venue in the world) with the London Philharmonic. The wind was whistling through the rock formations and the lights of Denver scintillated in the background. Part of the way through the concert, I actually lost track of the music for a while as I sat pondering the words and their hidden meanings. And then, I started to see how the music presented a mood to go along with and enhance those meanings. Of course, it helps that Sting is an intelligent person and writes complex, almost 3-dimensional, music.

After that, I started paying attention to the subtleties and the art of the written word. I saw it in posters and advertisements, on the sides of buses, in lyrics and speeches, in lectures and well-done movies. Sometimes, I even found it in casual conversation and wondered if the speaker knew how clever his/her statement was.

It also completely changed how I read books and possibly not for the better. Now, I tend to notice a word here or a phrase there and how they change the feeling of the writing. Poorly written books also annoy me more than they used to. Reading as a writer is improving my writing, but I think in some ways it has lessened my pleasure in reading because now I am as much critic and student as I am reader.

As I see it, viewing the world as a writer is one step in the journey to becoming accomplished at our craft. Each time we see the subtleties in how others form their words, sentences, and paragraphs, we improve our own writing.

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    About the Author:
Sean Curley - Author Photo

Sean Curley, Author

Sean Curley (1961-) was born and raised in California. His Catholic upbringing shifted to Philosophy and Computers during college. Others have referred to him as a Renaissance man because of his diverse educational background in Computer Science, Philosophy, Management, Space Studies, and Creative Writing. He is frequently found speaking on diverse topics such as Humanism, management, parenting, separation of church and state, and religious history. He has published one non-fiction book, Humanism for Parents, and one novel, Propositum – A Novel. He is currently working on two more novels. Mr. Curley lives in Colorado with his children.

9 thoughts on “Viewing the World as a Writer

  1. Tracy Brisendine

    Great Blog post, Sean!
    I can relate, now that I’ve taken fiction writing classes and started paying attention to prose as a I read and write I’ve become much more critical.
    Back in the day *cough* (Showing my age here :P) I used to be able to read a craptastic book and still enjoy it…Now…I cringe and roll my eyes until I’m so distracted by the piss poor writing I call it and stop reading. I kinda miss my lack of discernment, but maybe my writing has improved as a result. One can only hope.

    Thanks for sharing! – Cheers

    Reply
  2. Julie Luek

    I hope to cultivate this more as I gain experience and confidence. I too went to DU for an MA (not in creative writing, however). A very good experience. And I know this wasn’t entirely your point, but I envy that Sting concert. His music truly is so complex. Thanks for the reminder and encouragement to keep my writer’s eyes and mind open.

    Reply
  3. Sean P. Curley

    Thanks Tracy. I do find myself giving up on many more books today that I would have in the past. Life’s just too short to waste time reading poorly written novels. :)

    Reply
    1. Patricia Stoltey

      I agree, Sean! I no longer read more than 10 pages of many novels I buy. But oh, the joy, when I crack open a book and find great writing, wonderful characters, and a story that pulls me right in.

      Reply
  4. Julie Kazimer

    HI Sean,

    Love the ‘view the world as a writer’ idea. Sometimes a hard concept to do. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  5. Mark Stevens

    Well said ! I’ve been thinking along the same lines lately. My metaphor has been food. I’ve been trying to notice in what I read and also trying to be more intentional in what I write. This dish says ‘garlic’ or ‘lemon’ or, say, ‘lemon-basil.’ Something clear / distinct / bold. So, what is THIS scene? What is it’s point? Tension-building, character-building and, if it’s about a specific character, what is the MESSAGE I’m trying to send to the reader (underlying message). Anyway, that doesn’t really connect with your point, Sean, but maybe / sort of.

    Reply
    1. Sean P. Curley

      Interesting. Physical things like food seem to be an entirely new level of seeing the world as a writer. Do you consider how to describe a particular meal (or thing) or how to enhance an image of a meal with language.

      And yes, it seemed a little difficult to connect that last half of your comment with the blog entry. :)

      Reply
      1. Patricia Stoltey

        It connected for me. Seeing the world as a writer means observing everything around us, and then picking the right words to interpret the things we see and feel, including food. Especially chocolate. :D

        Reply

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