|'Before it Starts' by Me|
My driving thoughts have been on a constant question, "What makes a writer?" I love writing. This doesn't mean that I'm an expert or that this blog post is law or the official guidelines to what it takes to be a writer. I'm not saying go ye into all the world and share "my gospel". (Insert smile) I want you to read what works for me and what I find a comfort when I'm sinking myself in ink.
Create in a creative environmentMy writing suffers tremendously when I allow my time to be bogged down by the stress and
mundane of this world. When I push the words aside to deal with the "important" things I suffer, my writing suffers. Writing is the important thing. It is what makes me tick. At times it is the only way I can express myself and express it comfortably. I keep a small group of people close, a muse pool. Artists, fellow writers, smile givers, laugh until you cry helpers, sensational conversationalists. . . these people are my environment and sometimes I would like to lock them up and keep them on a steady creative siphon. Do you think they would mind?
Be sure to feed regularlyWhat? Are you a vampire too? Establish the things that help your creative process. For me:
1. Music - Even if I'm not writing at a given time, music helps the cogs of my wheel stay greased and constant. It is poetry to my ears and helps to lighten the load. I know writers more and more create playlists based on their works.
2. Read - If a writer doesn't read I would question their ability to write and to write read worthy material. Faulkner said this, “Read, read, read. Read everything -- trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window.”
3. Caffeine - I know some people are raising their eyebrows at this suggestion, but caffeine is a big help to me. I'm not saying take the pills (been there, done that . . . not a good idea) and I'm not saying to drink a 6 pack of energy drinks. My caffeine of choice is chai. If I've had a particularly rough day, chai or even some yummy tea help me to get down to business. As my sister likes to joke, "Caffeine makes me a genius!"
4. Tools - Typing on the computer helps me to quickly take the flow of words from my mind and have them out on the screen in front of me. However, I much prefer the feel of a pencil (NOT MECHANICAL) scratching across the lined pages of a notebook. There is such satisfaction, for me, to filling up an entire notebook with MY words. There have been times when I even succumb to 'typing' on my Kindle or the iPad. That is NOT helpful to the creative process. Touch screens be damned, they block the creative cog. (insert wink) As Joe Fox says in You've Got Mail (he knows the way to my heart) "Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address."
Know the known
I could have said know your weakness, but I don't want to interpret them as weaknesses or even limits. In the back of my mind I do know the walls of my writing. I know it's mood and I know it's comfort zone; while I don't limit myself, I do know where I stand in terms of my strengths and that means knowing where I could be growing.
1. Criticism - I don't take criticism well. I try to pretend to myself that when I ask people's opinion I want them to be honest, but let's face it . . . I want them to say it is great, to be nice. I'm learning to be more open, but also to be careful who I ask. I think if it is someone you respect and are friends with even, it is much easier to listen to what they have to say about your/my hard work.
2. Let's talk - I was joking with Deven the other day about this graphic I saw on pinterest and how perfect it was for my personality. It is so true. I am not public speaking material (hence it being on bucket list). My views or things I desire to express come out better when writing. The sad thing is by not talking I've missed out on important conversations I should have had with people I care(d) deeply about. There is a plus side, though; this means my writing expresses 'expertly' and passionately what I'm feeling and thinking. So I'm not going to be completely negative in regards to be unable to give a voice to my thoughts; for now the ink and I are like this (crosses fingers).
3. Fact or Fiction - My favorite book genre, for as long as I can remember, is Fantasy. I am not a fantasy writer. I may or may not have a vampire or werewolf novel sitting in the confines of my mind (wink), but that does not mean it will see the light of day . . . ever. I know that my writing talents lie strongly in the realm of Everyday Fiction or nonsense Non-Fiction genres. For now I'm okay with that and if Fantasy jumps out of my pen one of these days so be it. Establish your genre of taste and go for it. Stop wishing (listen to your own advice, Maddie) that your writing would sound like this or that, just write!
4. Shut that Open Book? - Finding a balance between being an open honest person and 'protecting' me from the world by hiding more of my true self is difficult. You will find the realest version of me in my writings. I've been told, and I quite agree, that I/we need to be careful how much of our essence's we pour into our writings. It hurts that much more when it is criticized or rendered unrecognizable by would be editors. I'm not saying stop, merely proceed with caution. One of my favorite things about Louisa May Alcott's writing is that you see so much of her in there; her personality, her dreams, her life. I feel to read her books is to know who she was and I aspire to be, not a duplicate of her, but a writer like her in that when you read my books you finally see everything (or nearly) that I've been keeping secret.
5. Listen, Observe, Question, Hear Everything! - I'm not a talker, as I have already mentioned, but I like meaty (can you taste it yet?) conversations. I want to walk away with words to mull over or to use in my own writing. I enjoy conversations with a fellow writer friend of mine. When I talk to him, I feel a resounding sigh that instantly calms me and at the same time sparks the creative process. In fact I have words that have been 'broken record' playing in my mind since our last conversation, that I want to use in a poem.
I like watching people too. No, I'm not a stalker. I observe people and make up stories and even accents for them in my mind. Any writer needs the ability to watch people and watch their worlds unfold in their own minds.
Ask questions! Don't know what the word means? Ask, how else are you going to learn or find your next favorite word of the month? Ask for advice, ask opinions, ask . . . ASK!
As music is a huge part of who I am, it is increasingly important to hear not only what people are saying, but what the music is singing. The words, how they complement each other, how they possibly apply to my situation and my writing, how they affect my mood, etc. Picture me shaking you by the shoulders right now, that's how excited I am (insert grin).
*I wish cars came with a computer keyboard, so I could type my ideas while driving . . . safely of course.
Blog title tribute to Regina Spektor's song Oh Marcello.
Blog title tribute to Regina Spektor's song Oh Marcello.