How to Learn Writing
Text About Texts
Most of the gurus of writing seem to be more concerned about what one shouldn't do instead of how one actually can learn to write good content. And this is useless if you want to know it. It is even useless to be advised to listen to your inner voice, although it's the right thing to do.
You either hear your inner voice or you don't.
Yet, some rules can be revealed as far as writing is concerned. With their help, you may start seeing words and sentences appearing from the darkness of your mind as you close your eyes. Or, rather, you may start hearing your inner voice waking up from numbness.
It is impossible to teach writing, you can only learn it by yourself by knowing some secrets and using certain techniques.
Keep on Writing
There is one secret that can transform the shy into the courageous, the weak into the strong and the mumblers into the great authors.
Here it is: if you want to learn to do something, just start doing it. Just the same for writing. If you want to write well, write and do it regularly. Don't get into the trap of studying the history of literature or finishing a school of journalism. It can be as useful as the waste of time.
Use the simple recipe. Write. And write a lot. You will need to write for a long time before you can come up with something really elaborated. It may take up to five years. However, you will notice progress within several months.
Your texts need to be complete. They should make sense from the beginning till the end. An unfinished novel is less successful than a dozen of complete short stories. You don't have to show what you have written to anyone. But your texts should give Al Pacino desire to make a movie about them.
It is worthwhile rereading and correcting your texts, even something you wrote long ago. You may add more ideas or make the text sound better.
Try to write about things that stir you. It makes no sense writing something that stirs somebody else but not you. With writing comes the appetite, and you will want to write despite the feeling that you are talentless or even despite the feeling of how talented you are compared to others that will replace it.
Your first text may be fiddlesticks. And even your first hundred texts may be. Still the progress will come, if you just don't give up. Leonardo da Vinci never stopped to perfect himself. So can you.
You may hear people tell you that writing is not your thing, that you have no talent, that you should leave this to professionals. But as long as you want it, it's yours.
Follow Your Thoughts
The first secret was about the method. The second secret is about the approach.
You should write the way you think. When a thought comes to your mind, write it down. Don't try to be objective, observe canons, express yourself in a literate way. Write the very words that come to your mind. People love to read about thoughts and feelings of other people. This is how you find readers, a lot of readers.
At the beginning of writing you will lack words and readers. And you will be overwhelmed with the desire to correspond to standards, to be like that one or another. For a long time our writing will look like miming. So don't try to imitate anyone from the start. And don't restrict yourself.
Your opinion and the form of writing that you like are two components of success. You will learn to reason as you write. With time and training your opinion will get a sharper shape.
You can only learn these things by yourself. It cannot be taught.
John Dufresne Offering Tips on Writing a Story
The Matter of Style
From the first lines you will get the feeling of the shallowness of your style. You may even perceive that you have imitated somebody else's style. But what you want is to be noticed and imitated.
How do you get style? There is no conscious way. It will come to you if you don't restrict yourself. The perfect way to lose style is to force yourself into writing the way you don't like. Vice versa, if you want to have your own style, you must enjoy your writing. Then the style will appear. You can even make it faster and reread what you've written and mark your favorite fragments.
Theoretically speaking you need to write the way your readers like it. But in fact, no, your text is about you. This is how you can get people like your writing.
It is impossible to teach one to write in a stylish way, but you can learn it, if you want.
If you have difficulty reading your text loudly, if you stumble here and there, then the text is not readable. It is important to get your words flowing like a river. If you stumble while reading your text aloud, reformulate.
Do Not Refrain From Refrain
When you sing a song, you often repeat the refrain. The refrain is the chorus of the song, and the leitmotif of the text. In writing refrain is about the main idea and different ways to say it. You don't just repeat it, but you say it differently each time.
If you want your readers to get the idea, repeat and modify the refrain. How do you know it? If somebody asked you to tell the major idea of the text in two words, what would you say? You may lose many details, but keep the essence. Your answer could be the refrain. But if it doesn't sound good enough, you need to think again.
Refrain is not a strict requirement. But you can use it to decorate your text.
The Dialogue With the Reader
Any text is written for somebody to read. Let's say you write a text that anybody can read. So there is one detail you should mind. This is your reader's opinion.
Your reader doesn't live in your head. Your reader may not know some things that you know. Try to read your text as somebody else would do. Apparently, certain things will need to be expanded, explained and unfolded. Be it a footnote or a sentence between the brackets, but it must be present. Otherwise your text may stay unclear to the reader.
It may seem difficult to guess what is beyond your reader's competence or what is within it. But you will understand it with time. It's with the reader that you have the dialogue. So try keep the right balance between being clear about yourself and treating your reader for a fool. Don't fall into the trap of explaining the evident.
Leading the dialogue with the reader isn't something that can be taught. You can only learn it...
© 2014 Anna Sidorova
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