The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe. – Gustave Flaubert
I am a bit of a one for vague notions – the fussbudgets out there will probably think me a Lackadaisical Lulu, a Passive Polly or a Dreamy Doris but I’m not. Actually I’m a rather Hard-Working Henrietta, not to mention an Enterprisingly Enthusiastic Edna! (Smugly, Self-Satisfied Susan – anyone?). There is absolutely nothing wrong with having such a notion as long as you treat it properly (Be Kind To Your Notion …!) – I believe that there can be far more opportunity created from having such notions than many would credit.
So if you have a vague notion that you would like to try writing – then do it. If it gets you putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard in an effort to see if you might like this wonderfully satisfying endeavour then that can only be a good thing.
However, a word of caution – if you think that you would like to write because you want to be famous and make a fortune, then I have more than a vague notion that you might well be in for the teensiest bit of disappointment – for the path to writers’ heaven is littered with all those who thought the same – myself included. It is fantastic to feel inspired by the literary brilliance out there but to actually follow in those successful footsteps is a stony path indeed, as I discovered …
Many moons ago I enrolled on a creative writing course which was during my ‘I’m going to be the next …’ stage, when I thought I had it all sussed out – because anyone can write – right? Apparently not, as I found when I asked my tutor how I was doing and she informed me that there were those who ‘Do’ write and those who ‘Can’ write, and that I was most definitely in the ‘Do’ category!
I didn’t believe her for one moment and it wasn’t until a lot of shattered writing dreams later that I actually understood what she meant – because although almost everyone writes – not everyone can write.
That’s why I have chosen the quotation above because I believe the best chance that most of us have of turning into those who ‘Can’ is to discover what we believe and then getting it down onto the page.
Which means that you get the chance to be wonderfully self-centred because you can make it all about you! Why you want to write, your ideas, how you get them, how you translate them onto the page and how you develop your skill to actually do so.
But where do you start?
Well, I’m sure you may have heard the advice to write what you know – and that’s great advice because it can help so much in laying your writing foundations.
But how do you know what you know?
Probably your first instinct will be to claim that you know very little and wouldn’t want to write about it anyway! A perfectly legitimate response and I do not for one minute suggest that you should only write about what you know (or don’t!) but in doing so you will get to the very root of such things as to what you believe and what has influenced you. You can start to add the essence of who you are to your writing and this will add uniqueness to your creativity.
So, notebooks at the ready – here are a few pointers to get you started for writing about what you know –
Whether good or not such good ones, memories are a rich writing source and as you become more adept at recording your own then it is incredibly easy to expand to include the memories of others, sensory perceptions associated with those memories, cultural references and so on.
Where you live, what your life is like, the people around you, your job and so on – don’t forget, your observations will be unique to you.
Have you overcome it, do you know someone who has?
Your reading history – was there a reason for what you liked to read? What do you read now?
Hobbies and interests
Try and transfer your passion(s) onto the page – why you enjoy doing what you do, what attracted you to it, any ways you could expand up on it and so on.
If you think fiction may be your thing then start to build up character profiles, look for traits in people you know and incorporate those. Get out there and people watch. Think about environments in which to slot your characters and story.
Your point of view
Hugely important – think about what views you have. Do you have some strong ones on a particular subject?
Do add to the list above – and don’t stop there. If there are some subjects that you know little or nothing about but would like to learn more – then go for it.
I was most definitely one of the ‘I know nothing …’ brigade but here I am with twenty or so years of mentoring under my belt, which has given me a vast knowledge base and sent me in some truly interesting directions, and I’m rather hoping that it will lead me into many more …
I’m pretty certain writing creatively could well do the same for you.
Off you go …