Some people think writers are suddenly struck by a bolt of inspiration, thereafter disposing themselves to their quarters and, by the end of a candelit night, through flurries of inksplotched paper, have created the next literary masterpiece.
What a concept.
Those moments are so few and far between, you'd be better off trying to flip a quarter and have it land on it's side. It's laughable even to mention. It's the stuff of The Twilight Zone.
Writing is really a form of art more akin to playing an instrument. It takes time, practice, and enough frustration to make you hurl your work out the nearest window.
Nevertheless, the greatest writers and musicians do have an innate ability, but the artform itself requires it's undue diligence. No artist ascended into legend without the toils of sacrifice first.
I should admit, I do not consider myself a great writer, not by any stretch of the imagination.
I'm a simple traveler on the road of words, beset with a penchant for typing and a knack for forming legible sentences. I have a long way to go.
But here are my thoughts anyway.
Writing Starts With Reading
“If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
― Stephen King
Technically speaking, nobody ever sat and wrote without first having learned to read. That's where it all begins.
Why should writers read, you ask? I answer:
- Reading the works of the pros can help you develop your own prose. You'll explore themes, concepts, and tactics to later use in your own writing. Plus, you build your vocabulary, and who doesn't appreciate an eloquent lexicomane?
- You have to love what you do; you can learn to love writing by seeing it as a form of art. Read to respect the craftsmanship, and read to inspire yourself to become a craftsman as well.
- Through reading, you can explore wondrous worlds apart from our own. You experience the consciousness of the writer who's formed them.
A book is just a waking dream, waiting patiently to be dreamed, but you must first choose to read it.
Next, Write, and Write Often
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
― Ernest Hemingway
Speaking for myself, my writing usually starts out as garbage. Rarely is it anything worthwhile on the first take. But, like a sculptor, I work it, mold it, and eventually end up with something I'm happy to share. It takes time, and it takes practice.
Whether we're carving on a stone tablet, or tapping on an iPad tablet, the only way to get better at writing is to write. Nobody ever improved without the effort.
- Through writing, you put into the play the patterns you've seen in the pieces you've read. You start to use the concepts you explored in your reading, and you use the words you found in the process.
- As you write, you learn how to write better. You blast through your writer's block. You discover your voice. You hone your craft, and it becomes easier and to describe the worlds you want to build, or to convey the ideas in your mind.
- Your inner thoughts and emotions appear on the pages. Your senses are tapped, sensations condensed into words. In the end, you're left not only with a work of art, but a caste of your soul.
Yeah, it isn't easy, but... what worthwhile rewards in life ever came without a little bit of sacrifice? Don't be discouraged. Press on, knowing if you give your writing the time and the care it deserves, it will improve.
Now Find Your Muse and Follow Her Home
“Everything you can imagine is real.”
― Pablo Picasso
Our minds are capable of beautiful thoughts and ideas which can be shared, and writing is one medium we can use.
Writing is a way to explore creativity and catalog thoughts. It's a chance to decompress from the stress of a day. It's true, sometimes writing can be the source of our stress, but ultimately, it can also keep us grounded.
When I write, it's all mine. I can build a coastal city run by magic and ruled by a quorum of corrupt officials, or inform readers about the dangers of poor nutrition, or joke about junior high days playing World of Warcraft. It's unfettered, and my mind and my time are my only limits.
It can be the same for you, too.
If you want to be a better writer, read more, and write often.
If you think you've written enough, you're wrong. Write more.
When you've finally traded your time and your soul for your craft - and torn out enough hair to knit sweaters - only then have you become a writer.
Now go read, then go write.