Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Some Things You Should Know About Writing (To Get You Started)...(part 1)

Here in is my list of things that you should know before we go any further. This list is both a combination of personal statements and business-y ideas.

1. Writing is only as scary and/or as difficult as you make it
When someone sets out to write, usually what goes through their mind is the idea that they're going to tell a story of some length that they may or may know when they get started. They have this whole movie in their head, and by writing it down, they get to share it with people who are hopefully interested in that same experience.

Usually when people start this, they're very seldom discouraged. When the words start to flow out and hit the page or screen, there's a surge of excitement, a moment of "Ooh I'm doing something creative!" and the celebration gives way to more words and those words form sentences and paragraphs and pages...up to a point.

Then there comes the point when the initial enthusiasm wanes. Maybe it's because the thirty minutes you set to write have lapsed. Maybe it's because someone came home and you're too embarrassed to go on with them tromping through the house like an ogre. Maybe it's just not fun anymore when you reached page ten or fifteen or thirty or sometimes, even page two isn't as fun as those initial paragraphs.

So, like anyone else, you put it down for awhile, with the solemn promise made to yourself that you'll pick it up later and that spark will somehow rekindle itself to life.

And in that moment, in that break, fear becomes an avalanche and you lose yourself of which way is up.

So let me introduce you to an idea that may dampen those initial fires, but will help keep them burning longer. Writing is only as scary and/or as difficult as you make it.

I say this because you can easily go online and find a lot of people complaining about writing. You can find any social media network and make a ton of friends who have flat out burnt themselves into shriveled husks because they got a rejection letter or worse (like worse by a power of ten) are the people who are so afraid of getting that rejection letter that they never sent anything out. (You may notice that those people are the ones who do the most complaining, not necessarily the loudest).

Can writing be scary? Sure.
You know what else could be scary? Walking across a busy street or eating that weird casserole your aunt always brings to holiday parties. (As if anyone is going to eat something that is both salmon and charcoal colored.)

You know what makes writing not scary? Practice. And education. And support. You can find those last two things in the company of experienced writers (Hi!) and the first one is all you -- practice is your opportunity to push yourself forward.

Onto point 2...

2. Writing is the act of making decisions
I am a control freak. I love control. Some of my favorite video games allow me to be the angry and vengeful deity of virtual lives and cities, dispensing doom and catastrophe with abandon. Some of my favorite characters exude control the way creepy bus station homeless guys exude that ammonia smell.

Now I can hear some people saying, "Too much control is dangerous." and that's true, too much of anything is dangerous, but I'm talking more about the exercise of control, not just the possession of it.

Writing is a chance for you to be in charge of something. Whether that something is a fantasy world of knights and wizards, or whether it's just a few sentences about a hapless accountant who wants to tap dance on stage...it's your creation.

Does the hero get the girl in the end? You decide.
Is there even a girl to get? Up to you.
Is this world of your creation a magical land where goblins cavort at the feet of Easter Island statues and make eldritch sacrifices to the winners of American Idol? Entirely your call.

(more to come...)