On Writing: #1

charles-dickens-at-publwriting-desk

One of the goals of this blog is to sell myself as a writer. There are certain other tenets of course, but the ultimate goal is to get off the hamster wheel… stop workin’ on Maggie’s farm… quit the day job… get out from under the man. Writing is the only thing that doesn’t really make me feel worthless. That sounds sad, and I guess it is, but… nothing else really makes me feel all that useful in the grand scheme of things.

So as such, I thought that keeping a running series on what I’m learning about writing and how I’m approaching the craft would not only be a great opportunity to reflect on my work, but also to create some great content for the blog. It’s also a subtle reminder that I am what’s ultimately for sale here, not the content. And at the very least, this series is a welcome break from writing in that nihilist persona I’ve adopted during the course of my first few pieces. It’s a terrific challenge, trying to sell worthless amazon consumer goods to the bleak nihilist audience, but what better way to grow as a writer than to try the impossible? The voice of the narration does make me laugh out loud as I’m writing it, but the negativity that comes with it does get a little draining so it comes with a cost.

I came to the idea last week as I was brainstorming some blog ideas. I also began to strategize the manner in which I wanted to debut and maintain the content on the blog, so I put two ideas together and decided that every Wednesday, I would try to put out some content about my experience and growth with writing in general. And so, Writing Wednesdays became a thing, but I hate that name, so I’m not going to call it that. I thought I’d call it something like On Writing, but I think Stephen King or someone wrote something similar with the same title. I thought that was incredibly lame and a little presumptuous, so I’m just gonna go with the Writing Series, I guess. At least for now. So this is…

Writing #1.

Na fuck you, Stephen King.

On Writing: #1.

Today’s post, and possibly the following posts in this series, will be broken down into the following criteria for the sake of having a purposeful review.

Revisiting Writing Goals:

Like anything else, there will be good days and bad days with writing. I need to accept that I won’t be as proud of some pieces as I am for others. And not everything I write will even be good in the least. But that’s also a great aspect to writing blogs on the internet. It will be out there as long as I want it to be, and there’s always an opportunity to read over previous material and tweak it. Most mediums don’t have that luxury, but since this is about establishing a brand, I can always revise and republish the content I’m presenting. As mentioned above, my goal is not necessarily to sell my content, but to sell my skills. My writing won’t be great unless I go through the painstaking process of creation, destruction, re-creation, and repeat. With every successful piece there will be plenty of failures as well, but the end goal is to produce a solid writer, not necessarily solid writing.

I felt like I had a failure this week. My most recent post, 5 things I hate to admit I really enjoy, started out well. I felt like my voice was there, and it was pretty funny. I had some great ideas, but then I just hit a wall. I got tired, and didn’t revisit the piece for a couple days. And by then, I wasn’t in the same groove as I was. I ended up cutting the piece from a 10 things I hate list, instead down to a list of five. I saved the rest, maybe for a pt. 2 post at some point, but it was disappointing to have to call that one just for the sake of putting out steady content. Again though, I have to accept the failure, but it isn’t written in stone. I can always go back and adjust, revise, and update. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day… But it did fall pretty quickly.

Analyzing my craft:

One great lesson I learned this week about my craft is to stick with freewriting. It seems like such a skippable routine because you might think you already have a great list of ideas to work from, but somedays, it’s just hard to sit down and write. That’s when you know you need to freewrite. One thing with writer’s block is that sometimes we just have other things on our minds. We need that opportunity to sit down and get some things out, express those thoughts and emotions. Even if they’re never thought of again, or never used in any content, it’s extremely liberating to have the empty mind.

This is where the importance of establishing a routine comes in. So far, my routine has been to start with a bowl and a drink, or maybe do some yoga, or take in some of my own favorite content, and brainstorm some thoughts before deciding on a topic and purpose. But I can’t leave out freewriting. I need to start there before every piece. It’s a bit of an annoyance, but I think it’s a necessary evil. I will stick harder to that over the next few weeks and revisit the process. I hope and expect to find that my content flows much more freely when I’ve taken the time to express some of the daily thoughts that tend to weigh more heavily than others on a weekly basis. And maybe someday, I’ll have notebooks full of ridiculous, pointless concerns that will entertain me on a rainy afternoon. (I wish Half Price Books would start carrying these, again.)

Reflecting on my work:

Something I’ve realized is that my writing is much better when I am more honest and open. I’ve know for quite some time that one of my writing strengths is the voice I give to the speaker, whether it’s my real point of view and perspective, or if it’s just raw persona. I find that the pieces I enjoy the most are due to the element of a genuine voice coming through the writing. After some reflection, I think this is owed to a more open and honest message as well as a natural tendency to write as if I’m verbally communicating.

Maintaining that aspect, I think, is from within the actual process of drafting. It’s hard to stick to the cycles of drafting and revision, but it’s so much easier and better in the long run if I can just let my mind open and pour out on a first draft. Then, I can just go back and revise. I think this allows my voice to come out much more naturally. If I can type on the page as if I’m talking to a real person, I can go back and make sense of it later, but keep the general voice and style that shines through in the first draft. Something to work on is to write a complete draft before editing. This is easier said than done, however, seeing as how wordpress’s design almost invites the user into a mode of constant adjustment and refinement. There’s a lot of tools to work with, but starting with a lot of great content prior to revision, will allow me to maintain that voice, but in a sensical translation.

Understanding my influences:

In all honesty, this is partly an excuse to plug some books from the Amazon store, and maybe help generate some income for the blog, but in earnest, I do want to investigate some things I’m reading in order to analyze and apply some lessons into my own writing.

So here’s what I’m reading:

Haruki Murakami

This is the first I have read a Murakami. He has a growing reputation as one the great novelists of this era, so something I definitely want is to analyze how previous generations of writers accomplished such monumental acclaim. I started reading the Wind and Pinball novellas, but I have not read much yet. Something that has already struck me, from the introduction, is his mentioning of writing in his second language, English, prior to translating the story into Japanese. He mentioned that the challenge of having to use a more limited vocabulary and structural understanding resulted in a clear, direct writing style. I don’t know that this is a direction that is right for me, at least not at this stage of my experience. I am learning and using more and more Spanish everyday, but I don’t know that that writing style is very reflective of my own. It may make for more beautiful prose, but I think my direction is more in the realm of telling interesting stories about interesting characters. In other words, I’m not too concerned about the aesthetic of my content. Or at least, not this aspect. I just think my skills and strengths are in other elements and that a forced concern over sentence structure, syntax, and diction aren’t where my focus should be at this point in my development.

Conclusions are so overrated. If you read all of this, you know what the purpose is, I don’t need to artificially replicate it for the satisfaction of people like my former professors. Post concluded. Thank you for reading. Any comments and thoughts are more than welcome. Please share!

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