It probably goes without saying that I love to write, probably just as much as I love to read. I love flexing my creative muscles, but also consider blogging a close companion — it’s been my years-long, ill-kept secret means of unleashing my energy and weird thoughts on the Internet.
In many ways, writing makes me feel like a guest invited to another world or into the lives of my characters and my readers, though this probably makes the process seem more formal and organized than it truly is.
A more apt description, perhaps, is that I become a fly on the wall, privy to scenes and thoughts and emotions that seem to spring from my mind to my fingertips when I start writing them down. It’s almost like I hear the words and the descriptions and the poetry, but not quite — it’s something that becomes heard once it’s written, but until then it’s faraway but ever-noticeable, like a train horn sounding off in the distance.
As [Stone] was growing up in rural Virginia, she would be out, working in the fields and she would feel and hear a poem coming at her from over the landscape. It was like a thunderous train of air and it would come barreling down at her over the landscape. And when she felt it coming…’cause it would shake the earth under her feet, she knew she had only one thing to do at that point. That was to, in her words, “run like hell” to the house as she would be chased by this poem.
And after that creative tornado passes through, I’m left to pick through the sludge and debris and hope I can cobble together something nice, or at least interesting. On rare occasions, I find something beautiful, better than gold in my eyes. And I feel honored to have had a hand in its creation, in making something that connects to my readers.
But yes, creative musings aside, I do have a general list on how I write/things I do to improve my writing:
- I struggle with introductions, any intros for any style of writing. I despise intros. But here’s the trick I’ve learned: I just start with anything and get going. I try to past the mental wall that tells me that I can’t start writing unless I have a perfect introduction. (And hey, it worked for this post.)
- I write lots of scenes, usually out of chronological order. I’m usually “dropped” into the middle of it and have to figure out where the hell I am and who is telling the story by writing more and thinking about it after the initial wave of creativity passes through.
- Characters are important to me, but tough to write. Some of them stay put in their initial characterization, but others shift, constantly changing as the story changes. But somehow I still know they’re the same person all the way through.
- The danger, of course, is to make the fatal flaw of too many characters who act like yourself. One of my deepest fears is the possibility of this semblance of oddly similar characters becoming available to my readers, so… I try to offset the fear by learning to empathize with others as much as I can. I study a bit of personality psychology as a hobby and I like to chat and observe people in action, how they interact with others and live their lives.
- If writing about something is boring to me, I consider it boring to my readers, too. So even if it’s already written, I don’t include it as part of the “official” draft.
- Research is useful if I don’t know how something works or want to draw from something in our world, but too much of it saps my energy for writing the scene. I tend to leave a lot of placeholders or notes on things to research in the first draft, then I go back later and fix any pre-research mistakes I made.
- Similarly, I read a lot. I read around the clock: blogs, books, stories, news articles, research, comment sections, etc. The writing can either frustrate me enough to try to become a better writer or inform me of something/someone I’m curious about or inspire me to write something related to the subject.
- I have a soft spot for names and name etymology. I tend to become attached to certain names, though for anonymity or for rewriting a plot I will substitute them. I still like the original names, though, and call the characters by them in my thoughts and notes.
- Music is amazingly powerful for inspiring new bits of writing or for improving my concentration and creativity immensely. Since lyrics can become distracting, I tend to listen to instrumental music, soundtracks, or meditation music when writing.
- I have many influences: my favorite authors, Stephen King’s On Writing, Limyaael’s Fantasy Rants, my former Internet writing peers (wherever they are now), science, art, and so many other things that there’s no way I could list them all here without boring you. But I’m grateful to all of them for inspiring me and helping me to improve my skills from where they were.
Do you write fiction, poetry, blogs? Do you have a writing process that you like to use?
Photo Credit: “Mary Pickford writing at a desk.“