craft, creative writing, creativity, writing

Basics of Writing

Ok, so I have been writing a little while now, and have things to show for it, some of which are in arenas beyond here. Infernal Ink in April of this year and the For Her anthology in Cleiss Press (release tbc). I have an agent (Kelly Marshall at SMART Talent Agency), a writing practice and I must stress, I’ve written things, other than reams of material about writing advice. It’s a small distinction because the theories and practices of writing can generate a large amount of theories and esoterica related to it but I’ve learned there’s no substitute for doing and failing/succeeding.

Most writing advice offers the idea that you can avoid or circumvent mistakes and you should not do that, nor should you view them as mistakes or failures.

They are setbacks, roads taken and discarded. If you consider how we learn anything, it is through repetition, from walking and speaking through to everything else, then you should apply the same approach to writing. I don’t believe myself to be especially gifted or blessed, other than understanding that there is work and determination involved. What tends to happen is that you enjoy it enough that your brain forgets all the dead ends and you get lovely rushes of dopamine and serotonin when you get it right.

Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, he tried and discarded thousands of variations that did not work until he found the one that did. Look up or around and see a light bulb, it is a tribute to the determination of one individual. See the same with a book or a short story or a poem.

Don’t worry about being good to start with, don’t worry about it at all.

Here’s an analogy I really like, it comes from the bass guitarist Victor Wooten. When you play air guitar, do you play any bum notes?

So the first basic is just to write it, put it down somewhere and go from beginning to end. Enjoy it the way a child would, without expectations or notions of quality. It is the simplest and most difficult notion attached to art, because you compare yourself to those who have been doing it for decades. It will not look like the work of anyone that you admire or even hate, but that’s okay.

The second basic notion is that you are not in competition with anyone other than yourself. The person you were yesterday.

No, note that I am not selling you anything, or even going that deep into it. The basics are there, within you. Flannery O’Connor once said a couple of things that stayed with me.

“Everywhere I go I’m asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them. There’s many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.”
Flannery O’Connor

It feels quite bitter that, but don’t let anyone dissuade you. If you enjoy it, then write or draw or paint, because art is healthy. If it gives you a reason to go on, then keep doing it.

If anyone wants me to continue these, let me know. There’s enough of this sort of thing out there, and I don’t disparage that, but I just want to give my version of it, which reflects my experiences thus far.

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If you have any questions that might be useful to other writers, please contact me and I will answer them in future editions.

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