Tuesday, 1 July 2008

How to write

(Skip to - Coffee)

How do you write? Easy. Put words together to convey your thoughts and feelings to others. But, how do you write fiction? Personally, I can’t offer an explanation or ‘how to’ guide for that. I have no control over my compulsion to write of things that haven’t happened or don't exist. I don't know how or why my brain holds up these strange shadows for me to decipher. I find it impossible to explain the tilting of worlds that suddenly fill my head with ideas at the most inopportune times. That's why I’m so sceptical when I see websites dedicated to explaining the mechanics of writing. I can’t even explain how a story evolves to myself. Maybe I’m doing it wrong.

Mind you, a majority of these sites suck. It shits me that I waste time reading useless filler material. Stating the obvious “if you want to write, just write” is so utterly annoying. People are looking for inspiration here. They might have writer’s block or are finding it difficult to begin. Give them something tangible. Point them towards software that assists them to write 500 words a day. Maybe include some lateral thinking exercises.

It’s not all bad. Plenty of sites offer a weird first line to help launch you off on a tangent. Some allow members to add on to an existing story shared with hundreds of others. Lots of good stuff out there.

If writers block is described as the condition of being unable to write, I’ve never had it. I avoid the affliction by never locking myself onto a single train of thought. When I get stuck or bored with a story I leave it and jump to one of my many other projects. Not necessarily another writing project either. I allow the bogged pathways of my brain to work on the problem at a different level. Dig in the garden, make something in the workshop, read a book, write a blog post.

It may take days, weeks or months but ideas come at their own pace. Ideas that feel right and fit in amongst the other pieces. Sometimes the story might turn in a different, better direction. I’ve had amazing ideas come to me while working under the car. I drop whatever I’m doing and run for the computer or other writing device before losing the thread. Get out of my way if I’m on a roll.

I’ve found forcing a story beyond its natural bent is never satisfying. ‘Oh shit, deadlines coming up. Better finish the book.’ What a sell out. I don't need all my endings to be wrapped up ‘happily ever after’, but I won’t kill off my characters to serve a time limit. It’s disrespectful to the readers, the characters and yourself. If I had to offer one piece of advice, (and join the hated ranks of ‘how to’ blogs), don’t waste all that effort of getting your characters through the trials you set them in a story with a piss poor ending.

(Like it? See - Snapshot of a writers mind)


Girl of LA said...

I would have to say this a pretty damn good "how to," without it being a how to.

I myself have lots of stories floating around in my head, that I can't seem to piece together.

But with one, I finally found my starting line. I just need to sit down and get the rest out.

But again, very good advice. Really.

Coops said...

Read my NaNoWriMo post. It did great things for me. It's the kick start or , more accurately, the kick in the arse I needed.

Girl of LA said...

Will do!