I suppose, as a writer, this blog was eventually going to land on the subject so we might as well break that seal with something light and informative. Here are five things I’ve learned over the years about writing.
1.) “Words matter: Write to learn what you know.” – Mary Anne Radmacher I was introduced to this quote by my 7th and 8thgrade humanities teacher, Sarah Harding. It has burrowed into my mind, set up camp, and echoed through the empty halls of my brain – hallways waiting to be filled with unwritten masterpieces. In this class we journaled a lot, created stories, wrote and performed speeches, and practiced free writing. The art of the free-write would seem easy, but in a world today where we are so outcome obsessed the free-write is quickly becoming a lost practice. This is my encouragement to you, as Ms. Harding was to me, to let it flow out of your brain and onto paper. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling. It isn’t the point of the exercise and so doesn’t need to be on your mind. Find an object in the room and write about it – see where the letters take you and find out what is hiding in your mind about the lamp at the other end of the room.
Ms. Harding was a light in my life at a time I was most impressionable. I have always loved to write, but for some reason I lost my passion briefly during 6th grade. This disinterest or insecurity could have continued onward had it not been for Ms. Harding and her love of reading and writing. She allowed me to be creative and expressive in my writing and she pushed us all to write about anything, even if it was nothing. (No, really, she made a student write about “nothing” when he complained he had nothing to write about. I remember this 16 years later.) It’s why she stands out in my memory as a teacher; one I hold dear to my heart and one I will never forget. I look forward to sharing my writing with her soon.
|Wyoming Writers, Inc Conference: June, 2015
2.) Going to writer’s conferences is important and fruitful. Go to mingle, to meet like-minds. Go to step outside of your comfort zone. And participate in everything! This last summer I went to Cheyenne for my very first writer’s conference hosted by Wyoming Writers, Inc. and I’m absolutely hooked. Not only did I make some lasting connections with other writers from all over the state, but I also met and became comfortable with editors and publishing house representatives. It took away the pedestal I had placed authors and publishers on and brought them down to earth with little ol’ me. We had an absolute blast over meals and open sessions. The seminars were educational (see number three), timely, and manuscript shattering. There was an open-mic night where we were able to share our work with others and critique tables where I earned valuable advice on a project I’m working on. In the beginning I was timid and scared, by the end I was proud and surrounded by friends. It was just wonderful.
3.) Close your eyes and put yourself in your character for a moment. Turn on all your senses – what do you see, smell, hear, feel? How is the wind blowing your hair? Are there ants at your feet? Now, take your reader there. Pull from all five of your senses when describing a scene rather than focusing on one. It creates a fully developed picture of the world your character is in and relays information to your reader that pulls them into your world and away from their reality. I learned this at the writer’s conference during a seminar with Laura Pritchett. I’ve sorted through my current manuscript and found places where I’ve neglected my senses and my novel I will be so much richer for it.
4.) Write every day!It doesn’t matter if it is just a word or a phrase or a poem or a novella. Bring your day to a stop for just a moment to jot down some words. And don’t worry about the end product or how you can use it; it doesn’t matter. The act of writing, creating, and flexing your creative muscles is enough to keep your writing skills sharp. I work a full time job, am remodeling a house, editing a novel, a furbaby mama, wife, and member of AAUW. So needless to say, sometimes writing isn’t at the top of my priority list no matter how badly I want it to be; and I know you are busy, too! But I take a brief minute or five out of the day and I write. I write for this blog or haikus for my Instagram account. I write little blips of nothingness that won’t ever see a reader’s eyes and I don’t care. Just write.
5.) Get outside and experience life. Begin viewing life through a writer’s eyes and see that there is a story in absolutely everything. In the penny on the ground, in the leaf of a tree. Challenge yourself to build the history by asking yourself why it is there or where it will go from here. When you start to view everything with a backstory or a future you begin to find inspiration in things that were once insignificant. And the things you experience? Find a way to throw it into a book or poem or some sort of something. This pulls back into number one – writing to learn what you know.
These are my top five and I try to implement them daily. The exploration, number five, is a priority for me and, I find, I do my best writing when I am outdoors.
Let me know what lessons you’ve learned in the comments below!