Continuing on from my post last week, when I shared with you the 5 things I’ve learnt about editing, today I have 5 things I’ve learnt about writing. Now, I won’t say I’m an expert but I have been at this writing gig for quite a while now and over the years I’d like to hope that I have learned something.
- It doesn’t have to be perfect.
Yes, you heard me right. First attempts are never perfect. That is why they are called attempts. I have a friend who has a hundred brilliant ideas that if executed as well as I know he can, would win awards but at the moment they only exist in his head. He searches for perfection and therefore gets nowhere. If you want to write and to write a lot you need to do just that, write. As difficult as it can be, you need to get over your natural inclination for perfection and write. After all, practice makes perfect and if you are afraid of failure then you will never get anything done. The best way to succeed is to start. Work through your inhibitions and write every chance you get. You can seek perfection once your piece is ready to be edited. What this also means is that you cannot afford to edit intensely as you go. For everything there is a time and a season, each in its turn. If you try and mess with the order of things you’ll end up with half-finished bits and disappointment. And nobody wants that.
- Keep a notebooky type thing and DO NOT LOOSE IT!
This is age old advice and you have probably heard it before. I had heard it a hundred times before I did anything about it. Mistake. You know that idea you get in the middle of work or walking or generally at the most inconvenient time that you promise yourself you will remember? Word of advice – you will not remember it. Find yourself a notebook. Have it with you always. If you are more of a technological person, use the notes section in your phone or on your computer. that said, a notepad of some description works best because you can always have one with you. It doesn’t have to be a fancy or specific, just any old notepad you pick up at the supermarket and a pen you found in the bottom of your bag beside yesterday’s lunch and two lint covered mints. The important thing about a notebook is to use it. For years I ignored the advice about caring a notebook. I thought is old-fashioned and a bit unnecessary in a digital age. Besides, I had tried keeping journals as a kid and never lasted longer than a week. The main thing about your ideas notebook is that you use it however best works for you.
- Show don’t tell.
If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard this advice, I would be wealthy enough to pay off my student loans. However, as repeated as it is, it is an important point to remember. I won’t harp on about showing instead of telling, you all know the drill. It works. I have learnt that from my own experiences and my own failures. Don’t be the historian, be the storyteller. Make the story live.
- Explore the writing community.
As much as writing is a solitary journey, it is also a group endeavor. No hero ever completed their quest without some help from trusty sidekicks and wise elders and nor can you complete your writing quest without a few friends to help you out in a bind. Before I started blogging I had one friend who wrote. Being in an environment where writing was not seen as a viable pursuit, I felt quite stifled. However, when I began to blog and connect with so many other writers out in the big wide world I realized I wasn’t living with my head in the clouds. The support and inspiration I have found as part of the blogging community has been amazing. Get around it guys, seriously. Network.
In order to write well, you need to read well. Reading is like an amazingly easy study task that will help you write better. That said, you have to force yourself to read outside your normal comfort zone, experience different genres and authors and examine how they construct their stories. But most of all, just read!
Also, as part of my blog revamp, I’m opening the floor to questions about me, my characters, my works, and my writing so feel free to contact me at inkandpapyrus [at] Hotmail dot com