I’ve been asked via email, “How the heck do you keep writing so diligently? How do you sit in front of a keyboard and find words to put down on the screen? Any suggestions? kthxbai!”
The idea someone would send ME that kind of question makes me want to laugh my ass off.
But hey, look… 1300+ posts and counting. How the heck did that happen? Oh yeah… one day at a time, that’s how.
It’s the kind of question that doesn’t apply to you… until it does, if you know what I mean.
Here, revealed at last, is the grand secret of how I keep consistently writing blog posts here without fading away into the obscurity I so richly deserve.
I sit my ass down and write.
Now, I’m not being sarcastic. I know it seems that way, but that IS the grand secret. It’s the trick, the one thing that lets everything else happen. I sit my ass down and write something.
I don’t put it off, I don’t put other things before it, I don’t say to myself “I want to write a post but I don’t have time right now, I’ll do it later”, and then later say “Oh, I was going to write a post but it’s too late now, I’ll do it tomorrow”, and then tomorrow say ‘Oh, man, I’ve got a crazy day today, I’ll sit down and write something when I get home.”
I sit my ass down and write. I try to do it every single day.
I may not have a finished post at the end of it to hit ‘publish’ on, although I often do. Sometimes I write the PBeM story chapters, and sure, those now go up on the blog too, so you see ’em eventually. I also do other writing that you don’t see, background and research and fundamentals of civic structure and magical systems and military structures and all sorts of other stuff that may not ever see the phosphor-laden screen (or the iridiscent shine of LEDs) but help provide the foundation that my other creative writing is built from.
But I write.
I damn well sit down and write. Even if I have no idea what to say, no thought in my head, nothing going on… or too much going on, all of it seeming petty and meaningless and unworthy of dumping on your feeds.
Here’s the miracle of writing; once you start typing, words start laying themselves out, one after another. Pretty soon, sentences are formed. Whole chapters can develop, and before you know it… you have either dredged up some actual cohesive topic to write about and can keep going, and just go back and clean up that mess in the beginning later… or you can just keep going with inane crap until you kick start your brain.
For god’s sake, don’t tear it up and start over! Push on through, see what comes out. You can always go back and delete stuff later.
A second little secret? Sometimes, that wierd shit you plop down that comes from the back of your head, rambling and disjointed and all over the place, that can be some of the funnest stuff to read later. Save that post as a draft, come back to it sometime, and somewhere in that crazy will be something you will just tee off of, and say, “Oh wow, what was I on that day? Hey, that gives me an idea…”
Sit down and write. Make a point of it. Every day, in some way, do some writing that is for you, that is your own creative ‘kick out the jams’, blow the dust off your head, get the thoughts out of YOU and somewhere else where you can look at them, and give them the sound thrashing they deserve. It makes you feel good to get stuff out of where it’s crammed down in your gut, get it out there and just away. Put it in a blog post, put it into someone else’s words in a story, put it into an angst laden missive in your black leather bound diary with the red rose on the cover, but get some writing done.
How do you know it’s good?
Third secret. You never, ever, think that what you wrote was actually good. The best you can hope for is to look at what you’ve written, and say ‘Those are my thoughts, written my way, and I own them. That’s me on a page. Right, wrong or batshit crazy, hit publish and put it behind me. On to the next post!”
You can be writing theorycrafting articles, screenshots of a summer day, or a short story poem in iambic pentameter (whatever the hell THAT is), and if you are emotionally invested in what you wrote, you’ll think it sucks. Well, maybe not suck, but you sure won’t think it’s really good enough for OTHER people to read. If it’s REALLY good, you’ll be secretly proud of it… and then you’ll really not want to share it, because once you’re that emotionally invested in it, if other people don’t like it, damn that can HURT like a mo’fo.
Publish it anyway. Yes, you are risking some serious pain, but who said writing was for cowards and chickenshits? This is the real deal, this is your heart and soul out there for reals… you don’t do this if you’re a coward. DO IT. PUBLISH. And hell take the hindmost.
Fourth secret. When you write something and have those thoughts that it’s not worth posting, it’s not good enough for other people to read, it sucks, why did you waste your time… post it. Check for spelling and punctuation if you must, give it a last reading for sentence structure and grammar if it makes you feel better, but above all else… read it to yourself as though you were speaking it aloud, and if it sounds like how you’d talk to your most trusted and loved bestest friend, if it comes out smooth and clean and sounding like your conversational voice (or your ranting shouty voice screaming at the idiot that pulled the whole room and then ragequit after cursing at you for 5 minutes in that run last night)… POST IT!
We are not copywriters. Copywriters have very specific rules for professional writing, and they are there, and work the way they do, for a reason.
If you want to write, write. Strive to infuse your personality into your writing. Don’t worry about the rules, those are usually there to try and keep from alienating the short attention span reader. I say, screw that. Don’t focus on tailoring your message to the reader, focus on nailing your message presented YOUR WAY.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again one time; if a hundred people read what you wrote, you will never keep all one hundred reader’s interest. The best you can hope for is to keep the interest of the people who will LIKE THE WAY YOU WRITE.
That said, when starting out, it can be reassuring to have some tips and guidelines to follow. Follow rules if they really help you feel more confidant, if they provide a sort of safety net when you’re out there on the high wire and the spotlight is shining on you and only you. Just don’t let them be the crutch you use to tell you when you’ve written a ‘good’ post.
The best set of copywriting rules I’ve seen anywhere can be found here. Just thought I’d share.
Do I follow those rules?
Not because I’m smarter than them, or better, or any other pretentious crap. I don’t worry about the smart tips, because I’m already writing how I love to write. I’m not writing to please an imagined reader, and I’m not trying to take somebody else’s idea and spin it out into an article for a magazine for a steady paycheck. I’m not here to clear the personality from my writing and follow a set pattern; I’m here to blow off some steam, and along the way to use the words I write as I was once told you were supposed to use the words of a poem; to get my thoughts and feelings out there clear and clean for others to see.
If it takes me a bearwall to do it, I do it, not because I think you’re stupid and need shit spelled out for you, but because I’m having fun writing! I don’t want it to stop, sometimes.
Look, here’s the thing. If you’ve always wanted to write, but just don’t know how, you sit down, today, and you write something. I don’t give a shit what it is, take your grocery list from the weekend and turn it into a short story of how you had to escape from ninja pirates that had your house surrounded, and you only had THOSE few items to work with. Plus a kitchen, hey, I’m crazy, not stupid. How would you do it?
Or take some topic, I don’t care what, reach out and grab something from the air. Spelunking. Gravestone rubbings. Whether or not mallard ducks fart while they fly. I don’t care, just pick something. Then write about it. Just start typing it the way you’d say it, and go from there. See where you can take it. Tell yourself a story.
Write anything. But do it.
Put the writing in front of other things, instead of putting other things in front of writing. You can start off the day going to work, promising yourself “When I take my break I’m going to spend 10 minutes writing about x.” Maybe you won’t actually be ABLE to write during your break… but you’ll have been thinking in the back of your head about what you wanted to write all morning. It will be going around back in the ol’ noggin, and that’s some great stuff that comes out of there when you let it simmer long enough.
I take a USB memory stick with me to work most days, and over lunch I’ll do some writing, and save whatever I’ve got on there to bring back home. I may not have much, but just thinking about what to write during the day gets the typing process all smoothed out later.
Of course, there are those horrible moments when you just nail that internal dialogue. You come up with just the most awesome plot twist that sells your entire story to you, you know JUST the right tone to take, you get the words nailed down, ohh it gives you shivers it’s so awesome!… and then later you forgot what it was when you sit down to write it. Oh man, that’s got to be writer hell, right there.
Even with that, I think it’s worth it.
Anyway, for the budding writer, I’m as serious as I can be. You want to be a writer, then sit your ass down and make time to write. When you’re not writing, take time to THINK about what you’re GOING to write. Make it something you do.
And even though you think it sucks, if it sounds like you when you read it out loud to yourself… publish it, and then MOVE ON TO THE NEXT WRITING.
If you happen to have your own tips for consistent writing, by all means share them below. After all, I ain’t kidding when I say that you never really publish something and think that it’s freaking brilliantly awesome… and if you do, trust me. You were wrong. :)
I hope you all have a great week, and I truly hope that this trend of ever-growing numbers of blog writers continues. I love seeing so many new voices rising out of the wilderness. Send your posts like an arrow into the heart of mediocrity, for you cheer me up immensely when you do.
Oh, and that blog post title up there? I sat down today to write a post, with absolutely nothing on my mind but inane crap. The words ‘Supersonic’ and ‘Lightspeed’ popped into my head, so I wrote them for a blog title. And then I started writing a post that had nothing to do with those words at all, because that’s where my fingers and the back of my head took me. I didn’t try to force myself to write something related to those words when it wasn’t coming.
I could go back and change the title now… but I think that constitutes a last little secret all on it’s own.