Welcome back, you guys! My apologies for the extended break with new weekend articles, but ‘life’ was calling in a major way. Not to mention that I needed some time to come up with more valuable topics to talk about. I always want to give everything my best effort. So, no ‘fluff’ if I can help it. Hehehe! But I’m glad to be back to sharing some of my little lessons with you all. Spread the word, tell a friend!
Now then, that being said...when it comes to writing advice...
Don’t listen to me!!!
Hehehe, and yes...I am well aware of the paradox involved with you reading this any further...thus listening to me when I clearly just told you not to! But, still...there’s my personal learned lessons over time and then there’s your own gut instinct. If I had to choose one or the other for you all to follow? I’d say go with your gut instinct, every single time. Without exception.
Don’t doubt it. Don’t question it. Don’t ever push it aside to invest in any ideas that ‘Comsie’ might have introduced in his latest weekly article. No way! If I’ve learned anything at all, it’s that your writing is, quite possibly, one of the most honest and intimate activities that you can ever engage in. I’ll be honest...it’s actually become pretty addictive for me, personally. This has become my best form of expression. When I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I’m angry, when I’m fatigued...writing is my outlet. Some people compose music, some people obsessively clean house, some draw or paint, some go a few rounds with the punching bag at the gym. And others might lay back and talk it out with a therapist or a good friend. But for me? I write stories. When you read the variety of jumbled messes that you see with my name on it...more often than not, that is me working through whatever I might have going on in my head at the time. My attempt to untangle the knots in my thoughts and emotions, my achievements and regrets, my joy and my heartbreak. It’s my way of being able to wield the power to ‘make things right’ with the world. I can’t imagine anything being more personal than that.
I’ve written stories when I was totally heartbroken, when I was exhausted, when I felt ‘attacked’ or criticized unfairly, and when I was just plain horny! Hehehe, what? Are we being honest here, or not? LOL!
I think it’s a great gift for every other author to be able to do the same with their own work. I feel like it should be a representation of who you are at your very core...to the point where it takes years of practice and discipline just to dig deep enough to really expose yourself without holding back. It’s something that I’m still working on myself, but I enjoy the experience. It helps you to know yourself better through self reflection. Sometimes I write something ‘sexy’, or something really dark in nature, or maybe something bordering on some sort of personal philosophy, and I’ll be shocked to find out that I had that in me somewhere. Hehehe, poking my natural instincts and making me say, “Hello, stranger! Nice to meet you! Please, tell me more!” Hehehe!
This weekend, I’d like to talk about developing and following your gut instinct over anything that you can learn about writing online. And that definitely includes anything that I could ever possibly have to tell you about putting your true feelings into words.
Learning to write (Or improve on your writing) is like learning to ride a bike. The ONLY way to learn is to do it. Constantly. And yes...that might mean having you topple over on one side or the other. A few skinned knees, a few bruised elbows, and a bunch of embarrassing spills along the way. BUT...once you learn, it’ll stick with you for the rest of your life. You’ll own it, and it will be a valuable skill that you can always call upon when you need it in the future.
But again...you have to sit down write.
Do it as often as you possibly can. Do it every time you get a creative thought in your head that ‘might’ make for a good story. If you give in to your excuses NOT to write more often than you do to write...then you’re not a writer. And that’s ok. It’s not an insult. It’s not for everybody. But if your goal is to be a writer, even if it’s just as a hobby or a method of self expression...then those excuses have to be thrown out of the window. What are you waiting for? Write, already! Just do it. Do it for ten minutes a day. That’s enough. Just stop coming up with reasons to play the couch potato role in front of the TV, day after day. Writing isn’t easy, not by any means...but I think that should be a challenge, not a burden.
The idea is for your instincts to become automatic. You can actually train them, and switch from, “I haven’t written anything in a few months, I should probably sit down and bang out a page or two before work tomorrow to keep people off my back.”...to “I can’t WAIT to get home from work tonight and write about my day and all of the ideas and thoughts running through my head right now!” Make it a daily activity. Not just a discipline, but a habit so natural that it almost becomes subconscious. Had a cool conversation with somebody today? Write about it. Saw an accident at an intersection? Write about it. Had a dream about a giant goat monster wearing a purple night gown and a Chicago Cubs hat while asking you to dance in the rain with him? Well...maybe you don’t want to let random people know about that one, but you get the idea.
Again...what are you waiting for? Every story doesn’t have to be “Hamlet” or “Catcher In The Rye”. Those stories weren’t written to be the signature texts that they are today. It was an author with an idea that they wanted to share...just like you. Jot your thoughts down. All of them. Your deepest passion will come from your daily experience. If you’re waiting for advice or looking for some magical spell that will make writing easy for you...it’s not going to happen. Hehehe, trust me on this. There is no article, no book, no online tutoring session, no intuitive computer app, that will make your stories better, or your writing process any faster or more effective. Your strengths will come from the simple skill of taking those intangible thoughts and emotions within and finding a way to communicate them to your audience. There’s no other way. I know that there are a lot of programs out there that make the ‘promise’ to writers who are looking to get an added edge when it comes to writing that this is the way to go…but that’s not the spark that is going to bring your writing to the next level. That’s all on you. It comes from developing patience and confidence...in that order. And the only way to develop these things is through trial and error. LOTS of it!
In other words...’practice’.
I think there’s a difference between the art of writing, and the craft of writing. Now, if you want to get better at your craft, then sure...you can have a computer check your spelling and sentence structure. You can learn plot, pacing, and character development from some of the best, top selling, authors on the market today. But, at the end of the day...those are just the mechanics of the writing process. I’m not saying that they’re not helpful and should be devalued or overlooked...but understand that it’s almost like reading a book on how to swim. You can look at pictures and drawings and learn about the breaststroke and the backstroke and how to float...but you can’t just read a ‘how to’ book on how to swim and expect to be able to just jump in the deep end of the pool with no issues. You have to actually get in the water and put those ideas to practical use. You have to immerse yourself in the act of actually doing it. You have to find your own personal rhythm, test your limits, and discover your strengths and weakness, when everything you’ve studied is put into action at once. It’s a whole different ballgame. And the faster we all figure that out as writers, the faster we can move towards creating the kind of stories we’ve always dreamed about.
I certainly can’t tell anyone how to write their own story. And even if I could, I’d probably tell them to follow their gut anyway. I don’t belong in your head or in your heart, hehehe! This is your rodeo, not mine.
Now the art of writing is all about exploration. Experimenting. I have some young cousins that come over from time to time, and that’s all they do! Hehehe, they want to play video games, they want to see my old comic books, they want to hold the TV remote, they want to look in the closets! What’s in here? What does this button do? What happens if I pull this handle or turn this knob? I think the best way to develop your art is to do exactly that. Think of new ways to phrase something. A different story theme, a different metaphor, a different character type. Feel around, find your comfort zone, explore it until you’ve scanned every corner of it...and then challenge yourself to get OUT of that comfort zone and try something new! And then repeat that process all over again. I think it’s good to surprise yourself every now and then. And surprise comes from challenge. Everything that you write doesn’t have to be the best thing that’s ever been written online. Never be afraid to reach out and try something that you’ve never seen done before. How would you treat it? What’s your approach? What’s going to draw people in and get them to see the world from a new angle? The possibilities are endless. Try them out. Allow yourself to let go and write in the moment. Don’t bog yourself down with lectures and lessons about character and plot and foreshadowing and dialogue...just WRITE! If you go back later and think it can be better, you can fix those things during the editing process, but I’ve learned to abandon at lot of the rules and regulations of writing fiction for short periods of time and just follow my instincts in order to create something ‘organic’. Something real. I think its important to find your own voice as a writer, and stick to it. Even if you meet up with some resistance at first...if that’s your writer’s voice, and you’re comfortable with that expression...then you stick by it. You MAKE it the new standard, and you build your brand any way that you want to. Why not?
It’s art. How can it be ‘wrong’? I don’t see anybody telling Picasso how to paint a picture of a bull. Do it your way, and make it a classic that nobody else can duplicate! Ever!
So, this point of this article is simply...find your own way. Incorporate whatever good tips or suggestions that you want to along the way, and brush the stuff you don’t agree with off of your shoulder. The best part about writing is being able to create your own world, your own style, and your own standard of what’s awful and what’s awesome. Don’t let anybody else determine that for you. K?
Have fun! And thanks for being patient with me while I’ve been super busy with other stuff lately! Good luck to you all! And may your muse be inspired and wise in the weeks to come!