On Writing - Part One
Yesterday, I met up with a few of my writer friends and we had conversations, of course, on writing. This led me to think about my process in a way that I haven’t done in a while, and I wanted to take the time today to talk about this.
Writing is a skill, like any other. I don’t want talent. I want discipline. If I’m talented, it means I won’t be able to learn other skills as well as I have learned writing, or lighting, or photography.
Like all skills, they must be worked and improved upon, otherwise they stagnate and your abilities never grow. To this effect, I write every single day. Usually, that consists of me writing another chapter for my book each day, roughly two thousand words. I try and write the short stories for monochromatic on Sundays. And then I usually write down any ideas or poems that come to me as they happen. This totals up to about 2500 words a day.
This sounds like a lot, but I didn’t start like that. You don’t run a marathon from no training. You start with small building blocks, and work yourself up to bigger and harder challenges along the way. If you have never written anything large, doing so may seem like an impossible task. It is achievable though. You must reach a point where you can force yourself to sit down and write, even if you don’t quite have the inspiration for it.
I started creative writing with screenwriting, which is a far pared-down form of narrative. You are limited to write only what can be shown on-screen through a camera lens, and therefor have to be concise with your language. I think the lessons I learned while writing screenplays were invaluable in forming the writer I am now.
I also keep a daily handwritten journal, in a small notebook (The Hobonichi Techo; This little book should get it’s own post!). This is a great way for me to keep track of my days and provides an accurate log of what I’m actually doing. It keeps me honest, and can provide a great lens to view the world. Looking back on my days after they happen, I can reframe and write about it in a way that feels natural and literary. There’s something magic about writing something and holding it in your hands. It makes it real.
So, don’t be intimidated to write. Start small, even if that’s just a haiku once a day, a journal entry, or a blog like this. Fiction isn’t as scary as it seems. After all, it’s all made up.