Anyone who begins writing a story idea is a writer, there are no levels to it. You’re either a good or bad writer, and that’s where it begins. For me I’ve been writing for years, books and books of ideas that I could never finish. To this day I still have over thirty books that I can’t complete, all different ideas. Woe is me.
I find it funny how writers write to please others, but it should be all about what you want to write. You should be writing for the joy of it, not because you can make money out of it. (Although to tell you the truth sometimes writers lose money in books that they write instead of making a profit). If you are writing to please others it’s going to be a black hole, a never-ending pit of pleasing and amusing people who you never knew.
“If you live for people’s acceptance, you will die from their rejection.” – Lecrae
On a lighter note, welcome to the page of writing. On this page I will let you in on some books I’ve been writing, my advice in how to get over writer’s block, and some good books to read for inspiration. I am not a professional writer, so please don’t expect this blog to be the top blog in over ten countries. I am new to this, as I am sure you might be too.
When I have an idea on the top of my head, I tend to start straight away. (Some of you might relate). This is a terrible habit, this led to thirty unfinished stories. I have learnt a valuable lesson recently which has helped, this tip can be found in Colum McCann’s book Letters to a Young Writer. It is that before you begin a (maybe) horizon-less journey in writing a book, you need to write down why. Not why you are writing necessarily, but why is your character doing these things? Why are they taking this specific path? Why have you decided to write about this? Why? It could be because it’s a tragic romance, a never-ending war, an unfair life, to fix a mistake, to save someone, to find your purpose, anything. As long as you’ve got this before you write, you’re off to a pretty good start. I don’t plan things out, this is another nasty habit. This kind of rolls off from the other habit I have, they connect in a way.
You don’t have to write up a dramatic word document about why you are writing this story, you can just do what I do at the bottom of the page;
Why: a tragic romance; a heroic journey to save their one true love.
I do this a lot unfortunately, I said to myself, “Jessica, you need to just write an introduction in the first chapter,” but no, my heart had other plans. And you know what? That’s ok. It’s good to have structure when you’re writing, a ‘vague three sentences’ plan of how you’ll start it off. But in the end, our emotions get in the way as we write. As a lot of you writers know, we get attached to the characters we write about. This is ok too, because when you’re a writer you can bend every single rule in the grammar and structure books. Like the way I used ‘but’ in the beginning of a previous sentence, but that doesn’t matter. That’s how I write, and as long as it makes some sort of logical sense, I’m ok with that.
I have a few nifty tricks for myself on getting over writer’s block, it might work for some of you I honestly don’t know. One of them is physically writing down ideas on pieces of paper, grabbing a hat and stuffing them in. Sometimes when we begin writing we don’t have our characters or brain power to get under way. So, what I do with these ideas in the hat, is I close my eyes and shake it about. Then I pick one and force myself to write about what’s on that paper and tie it into the story. I’m literally smiling right now, imagining the reaction on your faces. It seems like a dumb way to write, but it makes it exciting and helps me a lot when I have writer’s block. Especially if you don’t have any books to read, this is my first ‘go to’.
“Writing is not a serious business. It’s a joy and a celebration. You should be having fun with it.” – Ray Bradbury
I love writing, as I’ve probably mentioned before I write for the fun of it. One day I wanted to write something, so I texted my BFFL saying,
“I feel like writing but I don’t know what to write, can you give me some ideas?”
And her reply, I’m not joking, was ‘Bigfoot’. I chuckled and was like, “Ok, I’ll see what I can do.” I love my BFFL, she’s amazing and we’re both creative, so we get along like ‘two peas in a pod’. We spoke backwards and forwards about the story idea; female or male, real or costume. I’ll be sure to share it one day with you, but until then it’ll be a mystery to you.
You’ll notice that my ‘chapters’ are a few paragraphs here and there, I make them short and sweet. Remember how I said we writers can break the rules? Some readers out there don’t have time to read lengthy chapter books, and prefer to just read a couple short chapters and then carry on. (Please note that this isn’t me, I am a bookworm for life).
So as writers/authors we need to think about what audience our books are for, short readers or long readers , above fifty year olds or below fifty year olds. We have to make tough decisions as writers, it’s a never ending cycle.
This is why I encourage you to write for fun! Life is too short to live trying to please others, society already struggles with social media and fashion! The least we writers can do, is write domains of adventure and creativity. Where portions of society can escape, and block out the judgemental world that others have created.
Wow, I wasn’t expecting to go that far. Awkward. This is where editing comes in. I could delete that whole paragraph and just launch into the ‘safe space’ of editing, but I’ll use this as a pretty good example.
Sometimes when we write, we get too much of our emotions involved. This is where we have to draw the line, in order to make sense. Balance. As you can probably note, social media and fashion has nothing to do with writing (unless you just happen to be writing about this). It is crucial and essential to keep on topic, and to not confuse your readers. For example:
The icy water numbs every part of my body, the salt stinging my eyes. Everything in me wants to cry out in anger, my lungs rebelling as the air begins to burn within. The sword glistening against the pale light behind me is the last thing I see before it sinks into the darkness, I scream beneath the water and strain against the hands which keep me from drowning. No! I’m immediately pulled back up and my own voice deafens my ears, my whole body emerging from the water. Agony, complete agony and heartbreak. I’m wrapped in a bear skin, my Mom tightens her grip around me and holds me against her.
Then miraculously my Father emerges from the crispy water safe from harm, he wraps his arms around us and we all lived happily ever after.
Spoiler: the Dad is supposed to be dead, there’s no miraculous resurrection.
I know it’s hard to make multiple characters, I struggle with it a lot myself. I think what we have to remind ourselves, is that sometimes there has to be a ‘good guy’ and a ‘bad guy’. I also, suck at reminding myself of the ‘bad guy’ part. I’ll either create this mysterious bad person that the Main character always beats, or a bad guy that turns to the good side in the end. This is also in a few books I recall reading, it really cheeses me off and makes me want to slap the author. (Hence me always trying to remind myself to stick to the characters). Unless you replace the bad guy with another evil, this is ok.
I’m going off again aren’t I? Let’s stay on topic. What I find helpful when I’m writing with multiple characters, is I write down a little summary about them. This is helpful when you’re writing, it can really help when another character walks into the scene.
So you go back to your notes, the character’s name strewn across the top of the page. Reading over what kind of person they are, and what secrets they’re hiding. This can really help with how they; enter a particular scene, start a conversation, make certain decisions, and act around certain characters.
I find when I’m reading a book with different quirky characters, it makes me laugh out loud and/or cringe with their different attitudes and responses. This is why it’s important, if you forget things like me, to write stuff down.
“… If you don’t know the culture your character comes from, how can you know what he’s really like?…” – Patrick Rothfuss
Unfortunately, I have something called ‘bad comprehension’. Basically, I have a bad understanding of what some words mean (but write them down anyway)- I may have even used a few wrong words in some of my previous chapters. This is a problem for me, because I try to write what I can see in my head (I’m a visual person).
I don’t know how you write, if you have dyslexia, or if you just can’t physically form sentences. But I know this: that if you quit, or give up, you will never get better at it. My teacher told my class a quote recently, which I’ve decided to memorise myself:
“We don’t practise until we can get it right, we practise until we can’t get it wrong,” – Teacher
If you give up now, you’ll be mentally putting yourself down. Writing isn’t just a hobby that you randomly pick up, or maybe it is for some of you (coughs awkwardly). Writing is a way of expressing yourself, showing your inner character, and re-telling true events in a different way. So if you don’t think that you can write for the public, or for the critiques, then write for yourself.
In chapter one, I told you that you should write for the fun of it, for yourself. I stress this point, strongly. And in the future, if you feel up to it, then you can publish a book. But not just because you’re proud of it, but to also share a part of you with the world.
The moral of this chapter: Don’t let mental or physical issues impact your decisions in life, it doesn’t even have to be about writing. Be yourself, be you.
If you guys have any other topics or questions you want me to cover in the next coming chapters, please let me know in the comment section 😉