The Written Art
Due to popular demand from several unconnected corners, I picked up a copy of Stephen King’s On Writing. It’s perfect. Exactly what I was looking for, in the exact tone I enjoy. Maybe it’s normal for Mr. King to write this way… However it works out, I want to pass along knowledge learned, as well as to dispel some common myths about writing and being a writer. Honestly, I don’t know nearly as much as I feel I ought to, but I’ve been writing for a decade now, so I think I’ve earned a little bit of muscle from the experience.
What is a writer?
A writer is one who writes. And no, I’m not being cheeky. Seriously. Right now, as I’m pecking away I am a writer because I am writing. And yes, I can hear you hecklers in the back shouting, “but how about when you’re NOT writing? Are you STILL a writer then?” The answer is Yes. I think being a writer is a path. So long as you’ve dedicated yourself to the written art, you are a writer. Period. Artists can’t help but create (or subcreate… but that’s a whole ‘nother post). Sooner or later, you’ll find yourself scribbling on Panera napkins or henpecking away on a borrowed laptop. The craft calls to us — we hear and obey (besides, it’s just plain fun).
How do you even write, bro?
I could wax poetic on this, but I won’t. I don’t need to anymore… I tip my hat (which yes, as a matter of fact, I AM wearing), to the brevity of author C.S. Lewis who once explained how he begins with an image in his head and Desire in his heart, when it comes to writing. I personally think it’s spot on. Some people like to think writers are some other sub-species of human, inhabiting coffee shops, dive-bars and lonely mountain retreats… and perhaps we do… but we also work 9–5 jobs and put our pants on one leg at a time like everybody else, as well. I think I would also like to add, in addition to Lewis’ image, song as well. One of the biggest motivators for writing my first work, Rienspel, was traditional Celtic music like The Maid Who Sold Her Barely, The Butterfly, and especially Suil a Ruin. I heard them and instantly, I felt the pull — the call - to write. And so one day, I did. Don’t think it’s some misty, magical, timey-whimy, spacey-wacey, only-writers-have-this-experience. It’s not. It may be special, but that only widens the blessing. We’ve all heard the art’s call at one time or another. Pay attention to it, then simply find a place with a door that can close, sit down, and write. Just focus on getting it out. Don’t worry if it’s perfect or if everything’s even spelled right… As Mr. King describes in his book, excavate the fossil that is your story. There’s something there — get to it.
Pantser or Plotter?
Huh? Did he just say Panzer, Panther? Pants-er? No. Pantser. Apparently the way I just dive right into writing is not unique to me. And this is also the reason why my lovely wife and I tend to butt heads when it comes to Story creation. Whereas I just start writing- ready-fire-aim-style, and allow the Story to take me where it will, along with it’s characters, Steph is a plotter. She plots. She likes to lay the whole thing out like a graphic designer — layering and layering until she’s more or less satisfied. It’s all grid-work and blue-prints for her. And while the eternal Pantser-Plotter war for the fate of the soul of Writer-kind may wage on through time and space, I want to let you know that it’s ok to be either type. I can say this because I’m fairly sure Steph will never read this post, too… (And YES, you naysayers huddling next to those hecklers… I can hear you quite well… YES there are hybrid Pantser-Plotters, too.)
Write. Just DO it. Write your best. Read as much as you can, too. Reading well eventually translates into writing well, you know. Feed your imagination. Know who you’re writing for and why. Be able to write that down as well. For example, My name is Ryan P. Freeman. I am a writer. I am writing, ideally (and in no particular order), for myself, Steph, Logan, Jennie, Josiah, Robert, and Jon Jon (just to name a few). I am writing because I believe good Story is the backdoor to the soul, and because I genuinely enjoy doing it.
I am Ryan P. Freeman, and I am a writer.
How about you?
Originally published at rienspel.blogspot.com on February 22, 2016.