Sunday, July 26, 2009

Writing

Someone once asked me if I write everyday and the answer is no, not every single day. It’s more writing some days than others, but when it gets right down to the bone if I do not write every day I certainly am thinking about writing on those days I do not write. Thinking about writing is a lot like making a grocery list in your head the day before you go shopping. Instead of bananas, spinach, carrots and mutt food, when I think about writing I think about character names, how the story might end, with a twist, and which character are going to die, if any. I think a lot of nonfiction writing in the context of would people like reading it just because I like writing it.
There is no way of telling, of course, what people are going to like. I once cranked out an eleven hundred word essay in less than an hour, during lunch, posted it in a hurry, and people loved it. Perversely, some of my most well thought out essays have fallen totally flat. I cannot explain it. I think a good writer will care what people thinks after the fact but won’t give that a thought during the process of writing.

One question I get a lot is how to become a better writer. If you’re going to write in a language, let’s take English for example, you ought to know how to write in English. A lot of the Bloggers out there today have no idea how to structure a sentence, and honestly, if you’re going to be a mechanic you have to know more than just the basics on how an engine runs. You do have to learn grammar and it is really not as hard as you’ve been led to believe. You have to learn the medium in which you write. You have to do a lot of editing in the beginning because if you do not then you’re not going to retain many readers. People will forgive mistakes in writing but not a lot of them, and not if it destroys the flow of the story, or essay. You have to learn the craft. There are no shortcuts.
Writer’s Block, in my opinion, is a cop out. You never hear about a person having “Super Model’s Block” or someone having “Garbage man’s Block” or there being a cure for “Hunter/Gather’s Block”. If you’ve nothing to say at the time, or your story is going nowhere, or you’ve reached a point where things simply are not going the way you want them to go then welcome to the real world. Don’t sit there and say unicorns are sitting on your keyboard so you cannot write. Writer’s Block isn’t an actual problem brought on by some brain malfunction. It’s an easy whine. If you want to lay claim to being a writer then you’re going to have to work at it. You work during the easy stuff, and you work at the hard stuff, and you work when things do not work. I get flak for this opinion and some of it from people making money writing. But I simply do not believe in Writer’s Block.

If you want to know how to make yourself a better writer then my advice to you is to write. A few years ago I challenged myself to write a thousand words a day, each and every day, regardless. It wasn’t easy but writing is what defines a person as a writer. If you’re going to write then you’re going to have to find the time to write, and you’re going to have to make time to write. You have to crave out of the finite time in one day to sit down and do what you claim to be. You either can do this or you won’t do this. Either or. There isn’t any other way to define it. If you just want to write as a hobby, or you just like killing time in front of a keyboard then it really doesn’t matter at all if you write, or if you do not. If blogging once or twice a week does it for you then that’s fine and you really do not have to put much into it if a blogger is all you want to be. Blogging can be writing and writing can be blogging, but you have to understand the process by which you produce the words you write means something. The process is your craft. Do right by this, and you can be a writer.

No one can tell you what to do when it comes to writing and quite frankly listening to advice (even this advice) can either help you or hurt you. You have to decide how good you will be, and the only way to get better is to write more, and pay attention to what you’re doing. “Write what you know” is some of the best advice you will ever hear, but do not fear going out into the unknown. Your adventure as a writer will be much different than mine. No matter what you might learn from me, or my mistakes, or my methods, you will have to hack out your own trail through the wilderness. Reading great writing will make you a better writer for just so long, and reading about writing will take you just so far. Sooner or later the Great Truth you keep hearing will have to be adhered to, must be paid homage to, and you will have to put down all your hopes, fears, and dreams, and push everything aside to see the one bright shining reality that is both the blessing and the curse here. To be a writer you must write. There is nothing else that will define your art. Do right by your craft and you will be a writer.

Take Care,
Mike

2 comments:

  1. I'm with you. I don't believe in Writer's Block either. Any time I've gotten to the point where I just don't know what should happen next, I've realized (sometimes immediately and sometimes eventually) that it's because the story is just headed in the wrong direction.

    Or sometimes I just have to force myself to keep going and the way to make that part work will present itself.

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  2. That's the spirit!

    Keep pushing forward like the rest of the world does. I'm glad I've finally found someone else who doesn't believe in Writer's Block

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