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Advice for new writers (or old ones that need some inspiration)

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The Short

Just write.  Writing isn’t about being good, it’s about being passionate.  Don’t let anyone tell you how to write or what to write, just keep writing and don’t stop till your arms hurt and your eyes refuse to focus on the page.

The Long

Each time I sit down to write and stare at an empty page, a void opens up in front of me.  It’s a wide expanse that alternates between self doubt and emptiness and I peer into it with wide eyes and half a heart.  Sometimes it lasts a fraction of a second and other times the seconds march on into minutes, but either way, it’s my job to leap over the void and into the story.  Each time it’s my job to overcome my boundaries and write.

Art is an act of bravery and writing is an act of art.


When we put words on a page it exposes us, our hopes and dreams, our darker side, our interests and passions.  We are exposed to whomever might be reading our words, but more importantly, we are exposed to ourselves.  When we write honestly and openly, there’s nowhere for us to hide and that can be a scary thing.


Try it now.  Open a word document or a journal (of you like writing by hand) and write a series of statements about yourself.  Each one should start with ‘I’.  Write until you come to a natural end.

Did you do it?

I did:

I am tasting the water.
I am speaking with fire.
I am opening my eyes.
I close them too often.
I am thinking of something I don’t want to do.
I dream of things I’d rather not speak of.
I wish for little but hope for everything.
I am waiting for summer to arrive.
I wish I could see the moon on the lake every night of my life.
I want to write well.
I want to be good.
I need to be real, or else what am I?

So what does this mean?  Maybe something, maybe nothing.  It’s just words on a page that came from my mind.  Sometimes it is more meaningful than others but if we spent our whole lives trying to read into the words that we conjure, we wouldn’t get anything done now would we?

So my advice is to write…but how to write?

Write like no one’s reading


Because no one is.  Sure you’re reading, but you know yourself right?  So it’s not all that bad.  The more you write for other people, the more you will veer away from what you are passionate about and what drives you.  If you aren’t writing for you, you will probably get bored of it mighty fast.

Write like there is no good

There are so many different kinds of writers (and readers) out there, who’s to say what good really is?  And even if there is a good and you’re not it, as long as you are doing what you love, why should it matter?  If you’re writing for fame and fortune, it’s a long shot anyway, even for people who are really crazy amazing.  So best stick with the love and try to go from there.

Write with curiosity

Try new things.  I’ve always written urban fantasy, but I have a great deal of respect and passion for truly well written high fantasy (which I believe is scarce), so I’m going to give it a try.  I’m curious to see if I can write high fantasy well.  Don’t limit yourself to what you think you’re good at, try new things, because they may surprise you and if nothing else, the challenge will hone your skills.

Write free

People will try to tell you all sorts of shit about your writing, I promise.  Everyone will have a different opinion.  Some people will love it, some people will hate it and, unfortunately, some people might even try to read into your psyche through your writing. This is about as effective as a psychic reading (meaning not effective at all).  Sure writing exposes you and opens you up to your inner voice, but trying to make sense of that in any psychologically profound way is nigh impossible and ridiculously fruitless.  Write free.  Don’t read too deeply into your writing.  As humans we are great at (and love to) find patterns.  We will even find them when they are vague or nonexistent.  So don’t cling to patterns and let yourself believe they mean things about your subconscious, and for the love of all the gods, don’t let anyone else do it either.

Write with the knowledge that you can always edit later

Everyone has a different way of doing things, but I like to get a full thought out before I edit.  Whether it’s a paragraph, a chapter or a whole story, if you’re in the flow don’t chicken out and go back to check if everything’s al good.  The past is the past and it isn’t going away, so move into the future as far as you can before venturing back.  But please don’t forget to venture back, because it isn’t perfect back there, not yet.

Write with passion

Write for the love, not the money (because the money will either be slow to come or will never come at all).  Write because you can’t stop yourself.  Write because it makes you happy (or makes you miserable not to).  Write because you’re curious and you want to try.  Write because beauty is possible.  Write because life is too precious to go without mentioning.

All of the points above are well and good, but they all have one thing in common.  The word ‘write’.  So at the end of the day, the take home message is, was and always will be: write.  Just close your eyes, jump over the damn void and write like hell.


Tell me about your challenges and share your ‘I’ lists!

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This is a post for www.writesofluid.com’s blog writing challenge.  One blog post a day for all of June!  Check it out at the website or on twitter: @sofluid or #wpad!

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The Beauty of Corporate Writing

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Corporate writing can be beautiful.

Don’t believe me?  I guess I don’t blame you, but I’m telling the truth.

Fiction writing is an unbounded thing, wild and fancy free.  There are some boundaries, sure, but not many.  You’re unfettered, letting your imagination wander and run wherever it wants to.  Although this can be wonderful, it can be intimidating.  With fiction writing, it’s all on you.  It’s up to you to be fabulously imaginative, unique, un-cliche.  I used to have a reoccurring fever dream when I was young.  In it, everything felt big, not big and free, but big in an impossibly massive way that gave my little mind an existential freak out.  In my dreams the world felt too huge, too unwieldy, there was too much to be done, to be explored.  That’s sometimes how I feel about fiction writing.  Like if I pick one idea, I’m leaving too much out there, unwritten.

Corporate writing is the exact opposite.  It is tightly bound by rules and values, concepts and plans.  You must take a specific idea and communicate it in the exact way someone else wants you to (but with your own flair).  You must aggregate massive amounts of information and churn them through the well oiled machine of your mind, then it must come out clearly and concisely on the other end.

Sound boring?  Think again.

I think what people often forget is that corporate writing is still writing, so it’s a gift.  The trick is to remember it is writing and you are a writer.  As writers we have the unique enjoyment of being allowed (and sometimes even paid) to play with words.  It’s our job to put one word after another and make them sound smooth, flawless and wonderful.  Corporate writing can be a challenge, which is great, and better yet you are allowed the opportunity to add in your own personal challenge.  The challenge of making it beautiful.

So what is beauty when it comes to corporate writing?  Pretty much the same thing that beauty in fiction is.  Here’s some ideas for challenges you can issue yourself when it comes to adding beauty to your corporate words:

Brevity

I think brevity is stunning.  The simplicity, the awe-inspiring lack of confusion and clutter.  It takes a masterful mind to write something short, but exactly to the point.

Rich Imagery

I was writing a proposal for a client the other day and I was inspired by how much imagery I got to infuse.  It was a challenge to balance the imagery with the information, but by the end I was proud of the simple beauty of the piece.


Making it compelling

A lot of corporate writing can lean towards being a little dry, but it’s your job as the wordsmith to make it compelling.  Words have an endless amount of combinations, but if you choose the right order, any piece can have an element of art to it.

Information

Weaving information into the writing can be a challenge, but to do it well can be enormously satisfying.  Think of all the times you’ve had to communicate a bit of information.  You juggle the words, play with them, move them around, then bingo!  If that eureka moment isn’t a bit of beauty then I’ll eat this paragraph.

Still think I’m nuts for thinking corporate writing can have beauty in it?
Just surf the internet for a bit and check out websites.  Read a bunch of the copy and compare.  Some websites are quick, punchy and to the point, while others are slow, paunchy and drop the ball.

Corporate writing can be beautiful.

Beauty is everywhere, but sometimes we have to look a little closer to find it.

Look closer at your corporate writing and tell me how you find beauty in it.

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Stop & Go – On being a fast writer

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I’m a fast writer.

For the most part, when I get an idea in my head I just go, go go and I don’t want to stop until it’s done.  Some people think this isn’t always a good thing.  I’ve had people tell me to take my time with my short stories (like weeks or months) and I’m just thinking ‘What?! Why?! But I’m on a roll, I’m in the zone, I’m feeling the flow, I’m rocking this!’

Everyone writes at a different pace though, and my pace just happens to be fast and furious.  Like I’ve got a lifetime of stories all pent up in there and I can’t get them down fast enough.  And that’s okay.  It’s okay to write at whatever pace you want to, take your time or just let it pour out onto the page.  It’s all good.

All that being said I find sometimes, as I’m careening along the highway of my novel (both metaphorically and literally as my protagonist is traveling), there are moments where I just need to take a deep breath.  It’s not a slow down, it’s more of a brakes-on-full-stop.  I need to workout, eat a meal, or go for a walk and just think.

Maybe it’s that my protagonist has found herself in the wrong location, or maybe it’s the right place but the wrong time.  Maybe things have gotten too complicated, (I rarely find they get too simple), too extravagant, too obvious.  Something just doesn’t feel right.  As I haven’t really planned this particular story ahead of time, it could be one of a million things and I have to be okay with the halt in my speedy forward momentum.

Sometimes it’s a tough pill to swallow, when you’re excited about life and writing and everything so much that you just want to get it all out there, taking a moment can be a brutal concept.  Brutal?  Yes.  Necessary?  Sometimes.

A lot can happen in a five minute break, an hour long break or gods forbid a day or two.  You can learn so much in such a short period of time that it might even effect your style or the voice of your character.  So if you need to stop at any point, just read from a few chapters back to make sure you get back into the voice, then write like hell!

I’m a fast writer, and that’s okay.  I just have to learn to accept that sometimes my stories can’t keep up and need to take a little pit-stop before they can go again.

Are you a fast writer?  A slow writer?  What are your challenges with speed?