Lucy-MerrimanFeatured By OwnerDec 14, 2012Student General Artist
1. Read the genre you write. Short stories and poetry especially, because while a novel might teach you about language, the structure of a novel is different from other forms. The kind of character development in a 100,000 word text is going to be different from a 1000 word story.
2. Learn to hone your inner editor. I've been in freshman creative writing classes where I've gotten opposite feedback on the same story (eg, someone hated the story but liked the monologue at the end, whereas someone else liked the story but thought the character's monologue was cheesy.)
To cultivate your inner editor, you have to learn to critique, both yourself and others. A good critique is not saying, "I like this, I dislike this." It's understanding strategies for poetry and storytelling, and seeing if you're applying them well. It's also asking a lot of questions: why does this character do this? What's his motivation? Where is the scene taking place? Am I using a unique metaphor to describe this emotion or a cliche one? .
WRITER'S BLOCK Getting writer's block is okay, even if it prevents you from writing even ONE word in your writing. It's okay to be stumped completely and frustrated. Time will allow you to come back to it, and when you do, you will watch as words fly onto the page. I had writer's block for two years on ONE story, my most important story I swore I would finish. Two years and during that time I allowed myself to write another story with a totally different piece of writing, and they seemed less important than the original one I was so determined to finish, and eventually I got enough motivation to go back and write what I had memorized in my mind for two years. Two years of stillness then I knocked out a few more chapters in just a short time. It's okay for some time to go by; it will give you more time for thinking of how you can get past your block. But it's important to always keep your piece of writing in the back of your head, knowing that someday you will go back to it if it means that much to you.
Yes, and it's not how "normal" writers make their stories but I never really learned how to do it properly so I make it how I want, stories in paragraph form. Easy and takes up less space in my opinion. The good thing about writing is that you don't have to waste time on reading a book you could easily get bored with even though you like the topic. I used to love to read but all my 9th grade teacher had to say was that I was an amazing writer and BAM! One school essay turned my interests from reading to writing. And I gotta say, writing stories feels greater than reading in my opinion. It's a lot more of a challenge to your imagination.
I don't know how official my advice is, but it's something that's taken me a long time to learn, so maybe it will benefit someone else. The thing I wish I'd known a long time ago is that it's OK to have your own writing process. So often, when you're just starting out, you're inundated with "rules" and "requirements" and "methods." Things like, "You must write X amount of words a day to be successful;" "Never ever ever revise until you're 100% done with the first draft;" "Outlines are a must," etc. And if you deviate from any of those, then you feel like you're doing it wrong.
But the truth is that there is no right or wrong, and every writer is different. So learning to accept advice as simply that, advice, and finding your own method is something I think is important. And knowing that it's OK to be different if that's what works for you is an attitude I wish we'd see more of in the advice columns.
This applies to just about anything in life. There is never just one way to do something. And it's not just okay to do things differently, I think diversity is crucial for the progress of mankind. And I'm not even just talking about art. I wish they would teach that in school. And I wish that I would have had the courage to find my own way a lot sooner. Would have saved me from wandering around for so long and getting lost a couple of times ...