The Writes and Wrongs of Writing

947010_509979995734002_347528886_nWriting is a kind of art which cannot be bound by rules or laws. It is a way of breaking free of the shackles and expressing oneself to the greatest extent possible. Writing is freedom. And we can’t limit this freedom by framing a set of instructions and advising people to manage their writing within that framework. We can’ just advise people to write like this or that.

Every writer, or every human being for that matter, has his/her own style of writing. Just like fingerprints and tonueprints, the writing style each person possesses is unique, which no one else on this planet can own or imbibe.

However, like any other endeavour which has a few basic rules to help get started, we have a few such rules in writing too. These are a few of those which I feel are the most important.

READ

‘Read a thousand books and watch your words flow like a river’.

I don’t exactly remember who said the above line. But whoever had said it, had said it right. Whatever you put on paper depends on whatever you have in your mind. And whatever you have in your mind depends on whatever you feed it with.

Choose to read widely; across authors of different countries, and of different ages. Fall in love with books. Have long lasting relationships with them. Make it a point to read daily.

One more good thing about reading is it nurtures your mind and allows it to grow (unlike TV, which kills it). Read lots. And while reading, try to observe the kind of language the author uses. Observe the author’s writing style, his choice of words and the usage of metaphors or similes (or other figures of speech). Observe. And gather inspiration.

Don’t take long gaps in-between reading a book. That habit sucks the interest you have in the story, and when you return to the book, there might be chances you won’t find it interesting anymore. Try to finish off with one book before you move on to the next one.

And don’t even think of reading while you are in front of the TV. That would be like keeping a glass of nectar in one hand and consuming poison with the other, and thinking you are drinking nectar.

The best practice of reading is doing it alone. One wonderful thing about books is you won’t feel lonely when you are amongst them. And books can be amazing friends. Enjoy them. Live with them.

I have realized all of this only after I had published my first book. I was a very poor reader back then. But once I understood the power and influence books can have on you, things have changed. I am able to see the results in my current venture.

A book is a single entity which can take you through multiple worlds.

WRITE

Write. And write everyday. This is a must. Keep writing at the top in your daily to-do list. Do it the first thing every morning. Make it a habit.

Write with the flow. And write more and more. Write as much as possible. Many people want to become writers. But only very few jump into the act. Make sure you find your place in the minority, always. It helps enormously.

It’s not necessary to have a perfectly lined up story in order to start writing. You can begin by penning random pieces about random things. Write about the city you live in, the people residing or the way the marketplace looks and sounds during Sundays. Write about your house and your family. Or write about how the juice vendor at the end of your street does his job everyday.

Like reading, writing too works best when done in solidarity. The beautiful fact about this art is though the act appears to be lonely, the experience doesn’t.

Avoid listening to your inner critic at first. Doing that will only discourage you or heavily dampen or slow your writing process. You need words on the paper (or your computer screen) first. Blank pages can do nothing but suck your inspiration or the will to write. Whereas, a casual glance at the words you have just penned down can serve as a motivation-tonic.

EDIT

This is the part where you need to look at your story with an objective eye. And this is the part where you will encounter loads of garbage (which you will initially seem to love), and which you need to clean up to make your work a majestic art-piece for the world to see, and read.

You got to see your story the way a reader does. That will help you to discover things which you yourself might not have known to exist. Things like plot-holes, character inconsistencies or pitfalls in the story, etc.

Check things like grammar, spelling mistakes and punctuation marks. Things like these, I would say, are pretentious. They might appear petty but are very damaging (if not set right) in the real sense. Your story loses its sheen if you fail to take care of the glitches present in any of these.

SHARE

Writing and keeping your works to yourself is as good as not writing at all. Maybe, you might get some personal satisfaction with the way you have put down the words; that is okay. But the very purpose of writing is to communicate. You got to let people know your stories. There are a hell lot of readers out there, yearning for beautiful pieces of prose. Give them an opportunity to read them by sharing your works with them.

Show pieces of your writings to your friends and request honest opinions. If your friends or family members are too sweet to give honest opinions, join online writing groups or communities (You can find a ton of them on Facebook), and share your pieces of writing with other members.

Don’t be scared of criticism. Don’t let your literary panache go weak by the unfavourable opinions or reviews you get. Sweet opinions never made great writers.

Don’t hate criticism. Rather embrace it.

Criticism is like fire. Either you use it to find a path through the darkness, or allow it to burn you to ashes.  

As I had already said, the very purpose of writing is to communicate. But there would be cases when you may not be able to communicate in the widest possible extent, in the best possible way. Honest feedback helps you to refine the way you communicate, which ultimately serves the prime purpose of writing.

Of course, what’s the purpose of communicating if the readers don’t understand the language itself!

DO IT ALL, ALL OVER AGAIN

Consistency is the key. There is a lot of difference between writing once in a while and writing daily. Let me explain this with an example.

You wake up everyday and walk into the bathroom to brush your teeth. And you do that without any hassles. You do it so comfortably that you don’t have the need to think of it. It comes naturally. Second nature. The reason is obvious. You have been doing this for ages now.

The same applies to writing.

Make writing your second nature. Let the words flow. This doesn’t mean that you write everyday for ten years and then stop writing altogether, expecting the skill to stay. That’s like brushing your teeth for ten years and then stopping it all, expecting a lifetime dosage of fresh breath.

You got to write daily. Come what may.  Oh yes, you fanatically love writing, don’t you!

Bombastic Language; boon or bane?

big words‘English writing is a bodacious and an exceptionally good linguistic process. The language is deemed as one of the greatest languages humankind had ever formulated. It is a complex concoction of a humongous variety of sentence structures, verbs, tenses, so on and so forth. Having laudable English writing adeptness can make one graciously venerated in the society.’

Well, hold on if you are under the impression that the rest of the article is going to be in the same way as the one above. The lines above are just an indication of how one would feel while going across any writing that’s peppered with such bombastic words. The key purpose lying behind the art of writing is to ensure that whatever we write reaches the common man. Right from the nib of the pen to the peoples’ minds, the journey of language has to be simple, creative and euphonic. But unfortunately, articles and works bearing such pompous language are considered to be the products of creative minds. We have been dwelling in the pool of such naive thinking that we have begun to totally underestimate and stamp any writing that looks simple as something unworthy of reading.

507One fact we need to realize is that there is difference between simple and immature writing. To be more precise, there is a huge difference between writing in a simple way, and putting down words in an immature fashion. Immature writing is writing without understanding what we are writing. Putting it in another way, immature writing is using posh language just to show ourselves off without appreciating the idea of punching in words that are wound with creativity and euphony.

On the other hand, simple writing doesn’t necessarily mean that the writing be drab and lifeless. Complex words may serve as a prerequisite to good writing, as they bring liveliness into the language. And, when used at the appropriate places, they add flavor to the content. However, we need to note that such words have to be in limited number, so that they give energy to the language and at the same time don’t drain the energy out of the reader!

Another precarious thing regarding the blind usage of tough words is that by the time the reader had done with a paragraph of an article or a novel, he would have ended up flicking the pages of the dictionary a dozen times. This not only sickens the readers’ minds, but also kills their interest to move any further. And the result: your literary endeavor experiencing a pathetic meltdown.

And so, the next time you put your pen on the paper and use your creative head, make sure you become a stickler to these simple rules. They enhance not only the brilliance of your writing, but also your relationship with your readers!

mischa-richter-i-wish-they-wouldn-t-put-such-big-words-in-my-speeches-i-like-to-know-wh-new-yorker-cartoonDon’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say ‘infinitely’ when you mean ‘very’; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite. – C.S.Lewis                     

Writing. And the very beauty of it.

There is one similarity between perfect stories and perfect people. Both don’t exist.

Writing is one of the greatest forms of art known to mankind. When you write a story, you got to take care of another world altogether. You need to create people and give them a life each. You got to give them a past, a present and a future. And you have to give them their own set of imperfections and strengths to make them believable; and to give the readers space to relate themselves with your characters. You got to make sure that the life each one of your characters gets is a mixture of good and bad happenings. You got to give your characters troubles, sufferings and misfortunes. You got to give them something to hope for. You got to make them cry; make them fight. And also make them emerge stronger from their timidity. To sum it up, while writing a story, you got to play God.

And playing God is never easy. Never.

In the process of story writing, one thing you must ensure is to abandon your internal critic. When you are penning down your first draft, everything under the sky serves as a distraction to you. You begin to rephrase, analyse and then analyse again every line you have written. The font style and size attract you more than ever, and you become a terrible stickler to meddling with these options. You become extremely over focused on the quality and appearance of your story, more than the quantity.

Of course, quality holds more importance than quantity, right?

Wrong.

Not the first time. During your first draft, all you got to concentrate upon is the numbers, and how fast these numbers come. Forget about the language or the choice of words you use. Forget about the usage of metaphors or other figures of speech; brush aside the idea of polishing your language to the pinnacles of literary perfection. Just write down the story that you have in your mind; that flows down from your heart. Just forget the world around and go with the flow. Just do it. Get the words on the paper, as many of them as possible, and as fast as possible.

Yes, you will end up with loads of crap. That’s guaranteed. The very thought of people reading your story might embarrass you. The entire amount of work you had done might just seem like a never-ending pile of garbage. But hold on. That is where you will find gold. (Even that is guaranteed)

Writing is nothing but creating loads and loads of garbage and then editing it to create a masterpiece.

Once you are done with your first draft, it is time for some relaxation. Just keep your story away for a while; till you have completely vacated the ‘story writing’ zone. Only when you look at your story with a reader’s eyes, will you able to figure out the inconsistencies and the boring parts in it.

Come back with a reader’s mind to get started with the edit. Rewriting is a tricky thing. How much ever you rewrite your story, you will never get satisfied.

If you edit your story a hundred times, there are chances that you will still find irregularities the next time you try to edit it. Editing is a never-ending process, which can never give you complete satisfaction, and hence, can never give out a perfect story. The story of yours which you find perfect today will appear imperfect a few days later, thereby arousing your inner critics to edit the entire thing once more.

Do the editing continuously. Don’t take long breaks. Edit the entire thing at a stretch. And once you are done with it, give a read one final time. Make sure you have figured out the glitches in your story and have fixed them.

The underlying method to become a master in the art of writing is to write. And to write daily. There are no shortcuts. Don’t expect a Shakespearean mastery of the art if you haven’t written even for 10,000 hours.

They say it takes ten thousand hours to master any craft. How many hours have you written?

 Good writers write. It doesn’t matter if they are tired. It doesn’t matter if they are going through a divorce. It doesn’t matter if their kids are screaming. It doesn’t matter if they’re sick and dying in the hospital. It doesn’t matter if terrorists drop a nuclear bomb on their hometown. They write. End of story. – John Morrow, Blogger.