I claim no expertise on writing. But I did pick up a couple of things along the way, which I feel like sharing – for any of its tiny, tiny worth. One of those things came from a fellow writer, who called himself, Match. He said, “Read, Write, Practice.” And I have been living to that principle ever since. But when things started to get harder, I decided to outsource some help, in the form of books.
A few months ago I acquired two writing books, you might have heard of them – “Bird by Bird” and “Writing Down The Bones” by Anna Lamott and Natalie Goldberg, respectively. I’ve also been hunting for Stephen King’s “On Writing” but the book has become a mythical figure in this country, and having to scour for it without hope is tempting me to rip people’s eyelids out – just in case there is one hidden there.
Now, these books offer fantastic advice and suggestions on writing. But, it’s just that. The authors’ opinions. It sure boosts your morale, for a time, and then you find yourself withered again. You’ll soon be looking for another book for inspiration, and the cycle repeats. The thing is, I noticed some writers, tend to read a lot, hoping to find some hidden wisdom within the sea of text. Some secret why this guy is a freaking bestseller, while yours has yet to be pulled from the slush pile. Or maybe, reading books itself is the form of inspiration.
I then rediscovered an old book, required by my college professor, claiming it to be the “Bible of All Journalists”, “Elements of Style” by Strunk and White, which turned out to be the “Bible of All Writers”. Everything you need to know about writing is in that iPhone 5-thin book.
But there is something else missing. It’s the actual process of writing. Lots of writers (at least, the ones I know) stare into the white void of their monitors, trying to figure out how to start their story or procrastinate on how to write a compelling hook. Doubts and hesitations here and there, time passes, and either a few words were written and author is not happy, or there is nothing written at all.
I say, just write.
Cut off as many distractions as possible. Most of it come from the Internet, TV, and sometimes, from music. I’m not saying you need a shed, a writing closet, or an empty all-white room in order to write (might help a lot, though). But what you need is a comfortable space where you can write for long, backbreaking, periods, stand up and stretch for the first time in 12 hours and say, “I’ve written a lot of shit today.” Edit should come later, keep writing forward, until you’ve ran a full circle around your world. Of course, writing for 12 hours straight is impractical and unreasonable, especially for people who have day jobs, family, and other matters.
So, this is what I do. On rare, lucky occasions, I wake up earlier than usual. I take this time to stretch a bit, take my laptop and start punching those keys up until it’s time to hit the shower. It is important to note that it’s better practice to do this religiously – write early, while it’s still dark, while other people are snoring, and while watching the sky turn orange and red with birds chirping and the roosters doing whatever ear-splitting noise they make. Sometimes it will rain, you’ll hear it pounding on the roof, the shutters fluttering against the wind, knocking down family portraits and other photographs. The important thing, is to write. Sometimes I break my own rule, I spend an hour or less to check on the things I wrote so far. Just to make sure my plotting remains consistent, and make really quick edits. Then I push on.
Times when it is dull at work, I write as much as possible. On the way home, while in the train or van, I whip out my phone and type snippets, scenes far from where my story’s current position is, and I’ll rewrite it later and fuse all these scattered fragments into one.
It’s important to write in every possible moment. For most of us, hoping to earn some money in writing and plan to change the world somehow, someway, time is an investment we need to handle with every care.
Above all, don’t forget how fun it is to write. Keep writing folks.