Friday, January 22, 2016

How to be a Better Writer

Just get out there!
While reading an article in Writers Digest about how to be a better writer, I had an Ah, Ha! moment.

Though I had read most of these tips before, in one place or another, I read them this time with new eyes. She talked about how writers are generally a rule loving people. If you are laughing now while shaking your head, saying not me, remember, I said generally. :) We follow the rules, don't cut lines, sneak into movies and certainly don't haggle over baggage fees. All this is well and good but can result in our writing being a bit stale. You need experience to put into your stories to give them life. You may never put in the exact story of the time you jumped a neighbors fence to skinny dip, but the emotions from that experience should lend authenticity to a similar event in a story.

The article included a quote by William Faulkner, "A writer needs three things--experience, observation, and imagination-- any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others."

To become great you must get out of your comfort zone, be brave, risky, and curious. This primes your creative pump and reap the rewards of a well spent life--and well written manuscript.

Here the steps I liked best:

1.  Know thyself.
 What do you fear most? What scared you as a child, or teenager? What makes you laugh every time, with out fail? What are you most passionate about?
Take out a notebook, download 101 questions and write them out, you may surprise yourself even.

2.  Say yes to opportunity.
Make a goal to automatically say yes to all the possible things in your life.

My goal this year is to say yes to all physically active invitations I receive throughout the year.
Come swimming? --yup.
Hike Timpanogos? --For sure!
So on a walk around the neighborhood? -- I'd love to.

It gets easier each time I agree, and the experiences I have because I said yes are mine for story fodder! :)
Your goals will be different than mine, join a critique group, anthology, or craft group. Run a marathon or learn photography or sewing--just go for it!

3.  Go backstage.
Literally or figuratively--both are great. Talk to the actors after a play, talk to police officers about what they see each day.

There's a "backstage" everywhere you look, the grocery store, library, bank, teachers, artists, mail carriers. Go out and expand your knowledge first hand.

4.  Do something that makes your palms sweat.
Try public speaking, playing an instrument in public, or bungee jumping. Just be sure to record how you felt before and after the so your writing can feel true to life.

5.  Eavesdrop.
and after This one can be considered rude--but stick with me for a minute.

A few years back I met up at a popular bakery on a Friday night to get some words written during NaNoWriMo. As our own talked died down, everyone falling into a writing groove, the tables around us started to fill up with teens, college students on dates and mom/dads out with out the kids. Can I just tell y'all, some of those conversations still crack me up! The dates were by far the best, and I do admit we may have worked parts into our stories.

Go places to people watch--airport, park, mall, it doesn't matter. You see and hear things that will crack you up, make you cry or leave you wondering if you heard that right, because surely, you must have misheard.

Just write it down.

I'll leave you with the last words from the article:

Busting out of your comfort zone to seek out unique experiences will not only make you a more complete person and bring authenticity to your writing, it will suggest new ideas and new work. If you extend yourself, you’ll have an advantage over the couch potatoes and Web addicts.
I invite you to share my current motto: Impulse control is overrated.

What steps did you like best? Share in the comments!


Canda said...

Go backstage! I tend to do what I need to and move on without asking questions that would probably help my writing (and my interpersonal skills­čśä)

Donna K. Weaver said...

Great suggestions, Deanna. I need to take more of these to heart.

Carolyn Twede Frank said...

Great suggestions. I'm defiantly going to try some of them..