How does one improve the skills and techniques of a writer?

Or better: what is the writer’s equivalent of “draw from life” advised to visual artists.

Please, don’t say “write what you know,” which while potentially useful (for some people), doesn’t address the technique or skill of how-to write.

The reason, as I understand it, behind draw-from-life is that it teaches and trains an artists how to perceive, understand, comprehend, and replicate shape, motion, and builds knowledge on how three-dimensional shapes (people, animals, trees, tables, et. al) are built and composed. It teaches structure. It teaches baseline skill. What’s the writing equivalent? And “writing what I know” doesn’t really address that because it’s saying WHAT to write, not how to develop skill.

Most of the writing advice I’ve come across has focused on 1.) character building, 2.) worldbuilding, 3.) story building, and 4.) how to write outside of your identity and not appropriate and speak over other. But none of it ever felt like…technique advice.

Some of this could be because I frequent art blogs and artists’ blogs more regularly than writer blogs (too many words…), so I’m more familiar with what an artist’s approach would be to learning and developing a creative skill.

I mused on my own question and the best answer I could come up with was: re-read books that…

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Writerly Notions: Novella & Printing!

I suppose if printing a 100+ page story takes 4 hours, I should maybe get a new printer (or print somewhere else).

Though, to be fair, some of it was my own fault. I wanted to print double-sided. I didn’t have to.

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Writerly Notions: “Who gives you strength, how willing are you to ask for it?”

Quote from The Adventure Zone: Balance ep. 68

Only tangentially related to writing, but…

  • How do you meet people?
  • How do you share ideas with people?
  • How do you make friends?

I suspect there’s overlap between the answers to those questions. As for my experience…

I’ve mostly met people through school (and then rarely kept in contact once I moved) or through the internet (and one has survived to the present day).  Very often, looking back on it, most of those meetings have felt (with some exceptions), predicated by convenience, shared interest in a particular thing, associative time (such as being at school in the same class at the same time), broad association (being of the same gender), or mother-interception (that is, she set up time for me to meet other children outside of school). How many meetings actually occurred by these delimitations, I don’t know.

And regarding the last delimitation: How much it may have been me wanting to see someone and how much it was my mom, I can’t decipher. Probably a bit of both. But I do recall, while I didn’t mind visiting the few friends I had as a child, I distinctly remembering being glad when I could not visit anyone, because then I could actually delve into the creative things and ideas I liked.

But once I was in college, the whole meeting people become much more: ??? Continue reading

Writerly Notions: traits, doubt, & a Catch-22

Writing is a bit of a Catch-22. If I don’t write (and revise and rewrite), I won’t ever finish any story. BUT—am I using my writing (and revising) to avoid progressing in other important matters? So, I stop and stall and things take much longer.

Furthermore, I’m full of doubts about everything. Doubt and fear and anxiety. Is this the right thing I should do? Is this the right thing I should write? How do I know if this story is worth taking time on? How do I know if this story is “alive”? How can I be sure? Everything in life is like this: How do I know for sure about anything I think or feel? How can I be sure? So, I shuffle and stifle and don’t much get anywhere.

I’ve always been a bit like this. How can I do anything, let alone progress at anything, be it a job or a goal or a skill or a relationship, if I’m not completely sure it’s the right decision? And how can I be sure? What can make me be sure?

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Writerly Notions: Style & Mechanics

One of my biggest (if not my major) struggle as writer is finding beta reader and a writing mentor. Okay, that’s two things. But basically, my biggest lack is a lack of other people to read my work, provide critique and advice AND anyone to give me useful advice and tips on writing within my own style.

See, I came across some very, very, very old unfinished story. I don’t much care about it, but what fascinated me about it was

  1. the set up
  2. the tone and style

In the case the former, that’s something I’ve noticed in a lot of my old, old, old unfinished stories: a tendency to have decent set ups. That is, while the words are chunky and bland and it’s more telling than showing, there is a definite sense of something has happened and something will happen.

In the case of this story, a young woman has just returned to Paris from Greece. She left early for yet unclear reasons. When her grandmother greets her and asked how she is, she says she’s fine. But the text (my writing) explicitly says she’s lying. Like that’s interesting. I’d like to know why she’s lying and why she left.

This leads into the later: the few pages I wrote have a very direct and conversational tone.

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