Last week some of the students in “Keeping it Real: Stories that Matter” were asking basic questions about writing.
“How do I make my writing flow?”
“How do I get good ideas for stories?”
“How can I improve my writing?”
Their questions got us thinking. These are questions every writer, whether they’re six or sixty, deals with. Sarah Beth and I still deal with these.
So, I thought we might pass on a few gems that we’ve gathered over the years. We’re not professionals, and we’re not published, but Sarah Beth and I have done a fair amount of writing in the forty or so combined years that we’ve been on this planet. We’d like to think we’ve mounted a few rungs up the wisdom ladder.
So here we go…
Okay, so we know this is a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people want to write stories, or poems, or plays and never actually sit down and put pen to paper. It’s important to write regularly too. Some days you might not feel inspired, but setting pen to paper every day will keep the creative juices flowing and help you develop your own unique voice. Describe the bus ride to school. Create character sketches of friends. Recreate that hilarious day in history class using dialogue.
2. Find a quiet place all your own
It can be hard to find a place to go away from all of the noise and distraction of daily life, but to write you must be able to drown all else out besides your thoughts, the paper, and the pen in your hand. And I know it can be really, really difficult sometimes to find a quiet place, but you’ve got to be creative – when Sarah Beth was little, she would climb the nearest tree and begin to scribble in its branches.
All writers read. Period. Reading provides you with examples of great writing to emulate and less-than-great writing to steer clear of. It elevates your grasp of the English language: you’ll have more words at your disposal and more ways to arrange those words into thoughts and sentences and paragraphs. Great stories can inspire you, and, during those times when you’re frustrated with your own work, great stories can remind you why you write.
4. Keep your eyes and ears open
No fiction is entirely imagined. This sounds confusing, but it’s true. It may seem like J. K. Rowling pulled the entire Harry Potter universe, fully formed, straight out of her head. She certainly didn’t walk past a quidditch game one day and decide to write about it. But much of the world where Harry lives is based on the one where Rowling–and the rest of us–live too. She simply took what she knew–people, places, ideas–and then let her imagination go to town.
My point: great writing can come from seemingly ordinary lives and experiences. Good writers just look more closely and listen more carefully than most people.
Do you have a great writing tip that you’d like to share with other young writers at the Loft? Add it as a comment under this post. We’d love to hear your ideas!
Have a great afternoon!
SB & A
Word of the Day: skulduggery – unscrupulous or underhanded behavior; trickery