I was recently asked to write an article about writing by a friend. As a published author, they thought I might know a little something about these things… Boy were they wrong! LOL
I know nothing about writing. I. Just. Write. Pen to paper, nose to the grindstone, and write whatever decides to come out of me that day. I also don’t plan a doggone thing. Who’s got time for all those outlines and character sketches and all those things I don’t do??? When will you EVER get to write if you’re doing all that planning?!?!?!?!?
But — that’s also ME and how I write…
The truth is: I can’t tell you how to write. Nobody can. Teachers in school can teach you writing skills such as grammar, punctuation, and how to construct a paragraph. They can teach you how to outline and even what it means to write a character sketch. But they cannot teach you how to write. You have to decide for yourself what works for you.
Some people need to plan and construct outlines. They can’t function without doing so. Some people abhor that planning process to the point where it would prevent them from writing at all. Like me… And then there’s the people that fall some where in between. People who might outline but not worry with character sketches or plot building exercises. Ultimately it is you who have to decide what is going to make you get that story out of your mind and onto the page.
My guidance to anyone seeking to learn the “skill” of writing: Just do it.
Just pick up your pen and write. On paper. Longhand. Allow the words to flow from your mind and onto the page. Get. It. Down. Bang out that first draft and feel the sense of accomplishment! A lot of times the process of writing alone gets the creative juices flowing and then you start outlining a bit. Or you grab your notepad and jot down a quick sketch of your protagonist's character. The key here, is to just write.
A note about writing longhand:
My recommendation to you, and my preference, is for you to write in longhand. Pen on paper. Why? Because you are less inclined to edit while you are writing on paper! You need to get the story down, get the first draft out before worrying about editing. Writing your story on an electronic device — computer, tablet, wordprocessor — puts you in an “automatic trance” of editing while you are typing. If you edit while you are writing that first draft you will never get it out. So don’t do it! Write longhand and avoid the temptation to edit as you go. Yeah…you will end up doing small edits when you write longhand, like spelling correction and punctuation. But you will not be tempted to re-write entire paragraphs or move paragraphs around. The time to do that is after you’ve gotten the first draft completed. Do yourself a favor and just DON’T do it.
Just don’t write electronically, that is…