Hello, I have returned from the dead.
(The dead meaning the calculus, SAT subject test practices, 5th graders’ birthday parties, and the overall mood swinginess peppered with some great moments that has been the past week.)
Because I haven’t been keeping up like I normally do, I have been a little dry in the what-to-blog-about department. But I have been learning a lot about the art of writing itself, thinking about the future, making plans, and of course my beloved OYAN lately, and I thought I would compile some of these thoughts on writing for you lovely readers. I don’t know how informative this post will be, seeing that I am obviously not The Expert on All Things Writing, but I thought I’d let y’all know what I’ve learned so far. (:
How did you get good at writing?
I don’t really know why this question gets asked so much, honestly, because I’m not a bestselling author or even a real author of anything, and I think, given the choice, I would rather make visual art than write words. But anyways, thank you.
What I do know is that 1) I like to read, and 2) I like to write. Writers are readers. There is a very slim chance that one comes across a good writer who doesn’t like to read. Reading is the wellspring of writing life. Not only does it help you discern good writing style and inspire your own writing; it also expands your vocabulary and makes your grammar and mechanics skills A+. I was homeschooled 1st through 3rd grade, and I think those years were the years that I really gleaned all my writing skill from. My mom put my brother and me (and yes, that is correct grammar) in the Sonlight Curriculum, which is basically a Christian curriculum that throws 1000000 books at you every school year. Some of the choices are crappy – my friend Anna (who just got a blog!) and I laugh about this every once in a while – but there are some real gems of story in there as well. Good ones I remember (Remembering 10 years later which means they’re good) include The Shadow Spinner, Letters from Camp, and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.
Also, I have been writing pretty consistently my whole life. I have attempted blogs and failed them (until now), journaled, and written stories short and long. I guess that’s part of it too.
How do I start writing?
People tend to tell themselves big fat lies about writing. They end up talking themselves out of it because “it’s too late for me to start” or “it will be too hard/boring” or “it will be just like schoolwork” or “I’ll never keep up with it”. Lies! LIES! If you want to write, BEGIN!
I am the self-acclaimed Worst Ever at Keeping Up With Things. Stick-to-it-ive-ness is not at all my strong suit. Like most right-brained people do, I get really excited to start things and then lose interest and stop. But, I have been blogging solidly and mostly consistently for three months now. (yay!) That means WRITING IS NOT HARD TO KEEP UP WITH. I wrote it in all caps so you would understand how important this is. You can do it. I believe in you.
Getting started can come in a variety of ways. If you’re like me and just have a lot of thoughts, I suggest writing a journal or starting a blog. WordPress is definitely by far the easiest blogging platform to use, and the themes and stuff look classy (unlike Blogspot. Sorry guys, I switched for a reason.). Blogging works for me because I don’t care very much about having my innermost thoughts out on the Internet. If that is something you care about keeping private, journaling is better. Also, looking back through old journals is HILARIOUS. I have no regrets of documenting my life through my most awkward stages; the things that seem like the end of the world at the time become funny milestones of preteen angst when you record them.
How do I find my writing voice?
If all of your writing mainly happens through school papers, then you are probably having a little trouble with writing in your own voice. Analytical essays sadly do not make much room for creative thought. And there are also those people who write angsty poetry about their exes, and you don’t want to be like that either. That’s not your voice. Your writing voice is essentially the personality that the reader can grasp from your writing. Fiction writers need to be good with creating different voices for different characters/narrators, but if you’re just personal writing then you only need to develop your own.
Essentially, when writing, know that you aren’t doing it to please anyone. If you are writing to please someone, you should probably stop. But, when writing for yourself, anything goes. Your opinions, your ideas, your personal advice, etc. You don’t have to analyze anything if you don’t want to.
If you’re looking for writing prompts that will strengthen your writing voice, I would suggest writing about something you hate, an embarrassing moment that happened to you, or something that fills your being with sarcasm. Seriously. Not only are those posts hilarious to read, they also unlock the comic timing inside of you and give you a rush of things to say.
It’s good anger management. It’s a good outlet for laughing at yourself. It keeps your mind sharp. It helps you do better in school. Your friends and extended family can know what’s going on in your life. Getting compliments on writing is the best feeling ever. Colleges like good writers. Almost every business needs a good writer involved to make it marketable. You can remember more things that happen. The world needs writers.
When should I not write?
When you’re depressed. Anger is like holding a hot potato, where the feeling can be put somewhere else, so writing is good for anger management. Sadness is more like soup, where you tend to get it on yourself as well as wherever you were trying to pour it, and it soaks through your clothing and festers and makes you and your outlet both smell bad. A better cure for sadness is being around other people and talking out your feelings with them. Don’t get into the habit of depression writing. When you look back on what you’ve written later on, your sad soup will seep back into your thoughts.
What do I do when I don’t know what to write about?
Think about what you’ve been learning lately. (If you haven’t been learning anything lately, find something to learn.) Take some pictures of your day-to-day life and post those. Make a tutorial for a hairstyle or makeup look. If you’re good at something like eating healthy food, telling puns, making the perfect cup of coffee, drawing mustaches on your dog, whatever, share that. The world needs your little quirks. Or, if you really are just brain-dead, try some writing prompts like this basic one.
Write on, lovely people.