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: “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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Writing Week • stuck (12/12/18-12/18/17)

It’s been one of those weeks where I have lots of ideas, but nothing done.

At the beginning of December, I finished a biography that reminded me of myself when I started writing and old characters ideas, and from there to older stories, all complete but not fully revised or finished.

So I took some time and just…wrote up my thoughts on my stories. I actually used to write a lot of my thoughts about my writing, my writing process, and my stories. What’s equally fascinating is how I’d be leery of posting those kind of thoughts because those are very…mm…specific?

I name characters and places and the interlay between them. I reference ideas that may not be valid and it’s all written in the vein that anyone reading it will know what the references mean, what the history behind the references is, who the characters are, and what the connections are about.

So I’m leery because I don’t think my more useful thoughts would actually make sense to anyone reading this. Because it’s over a decade of ideas and characters and shifting stories. (And that’s not even taking into account some of my Nights of Heroes stuff — characters and stories — which is about twice as old.)

Sorry for the bland post. As always best wishes and writing!

Writerly Notions: to outline or not? idea or story

I think the parlance terms are “plotter” or “pantser”: Does one write a structured outline or structure the story as one goes along?

I’m trying to process this whole outline vs. no outline. And how that relates to revision. And where I fit. As I’ve done both, and I’ve done something in the middle, where I have a basic procedure of events following each other.

Like, if I have a rudimentary outline, but the actual first draft deviates from that and has developed a completely different tone and plot, which is the one that should be used in revision? The initial outline or impetus for the story? Or what the story became? Which is truer to the story?

And those questions open up a more important distinction: knowing what the engine or heart of the story is. This leads to what I’ve begun to realize: there’s a distinction between writing an idea and writing a story. This is where characters and character backstory and motivation becomes compelling.

More importantly, I’ve come to realize there’s a distinction between writing an idea and writing a story. This is where characters and character backstory and motivation becomes compelling.

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In-congruent Premise, or How I Often Feel What I Think & Feel is at Odds with “General” Advice

Well, getting here, to type these words, was a challenge unto itself. Sorting through emails and passwords.

There’s an incongruity between a self-help card that says “forgive others” & “what you judge in others is a shadow-self of yourself” when the judgement is what you perceive others to think of your skills. 

If I feel bad about myself because of how I feel from what others say, it’s not because I think badly of others. It’s that I perceive myself as not-belonging. So, to follow the premise set up by the card:

  1.  forgive others for making me feeling bad (because I don’t write well or make sense / try to make my writing pleasing to others or what others would expect)
  2. recognize that what I judge in others (that they are competent and correct in their assessments & belong in a writing environment) is a reflection of myself
  3. let go of my unfair judgement of others and…???

The problem is that the entire premise is centered around the idea that one’s judgment is misconstrued. But if someone has bad feelings or judgments, not at others, but at themselves, for what they see as others being right about them in a way that impacts someone negatively or in an emotionally broken/I don’t belong way, then… How does the premise of: forgive/recognize/let go & see the unity make sense??

(I’m not sure this makes any sense. I’m kind of rambling my feelings.)

Writerly Notions: fanfiction and revision

Something that has always puzzled me is how people who write original fiction find time to write fanfiction.

In my case, if I’m going to write, say, a 5k word story, it will take (generously) 8 to 9 months, including writing and revision. And that’s if I’m only focused on that writing project. Why would I take 2/3rd of a year to write fanfiction? And then if I wrote a fanfic bordering on novel-length…

I’ve always been impressed with fanfic writers. But I can’t wrap my head around how I could ever do that because of the time involved. If I’m going to write/revise a story, I need to focus on that story. If I try to balance, say, three stories, the progress is much slower.

I mean, to be fair, my writing ration to my revision ration is 3x or more. That is, if it takes me 3 months to write a novel, it will take me 9 months to revise it. Though if I’m honest, it’s a bit of a puzzle to calculate.

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