Writing Advice From Authors
By Mirna Santana
If you are wondering How to write? What to write about? If you feel stuck or the river of words have dried out, perhaps you need a peer writer's advice. It may be advice regarding content or advice about the writing trade. In any case Ariadne is a character that may help you. She has met some famous writers for real and metaphorically or through books.
You hear the usual, think of a topic, go for a walk, check Google keyword tools, and yes, yes Write! All of these are valid.
Are you stuck? Sit down and write...walk and then write. Walking, running, gardening or doing other activities such as cooking help writers to find writing prompts. There are free programs online that offer you writing prompts, as there are many workshops. Indeed some people say that these days the problem is not about writing, but about marketing. So learn about marketing too.
Do nothing and feel your pain...then write.
She likes to write long letters to her friends. She enjoys going around finding pieces to add to her stories. When she finds a piece that fits in the puzzle, she places it in her pocket... or next to her desk! New stories are always cooking in her mind. She has to focus and decide what to write about. For that she asks herself: what is next? What do I want to share?
Through the years Ariadne has gone through many troubles to sharpen her writing muscle. At first she was very shy about writing so she took courses on creative writing, writing in academy, writing in multicultural environment, creative workshops, peer review critics...and a class in science writing. She remembers her teachers saying nice things and not so nice things...but most of the times good things, encouraging her to write.
Then Ariadne being a book worm, also spend countless hours reading the advice of other writers. From these she has a collection of books about writing some old, some new. Sat ince Ariadne thinks that you may be happy to get some writing tips or advice on writing, even better if it is not coming from little known Ariadne (that is a pen name) but instead it is writing advice from authors--or well known authors.
List books on writing: On Writing well by William K. Zinsser; Struck & White, The elements of style;Eye by eye by Ann Lammot.
Writing she says is the same thing as building a puzzle. Writing for her is about building stories for friends or for herself. She ties the pieces together. The stories shall be connected like the roots of a tree or like the networks of mushrooms. Things are connected she says.
Ariadne searches for connections with other people. She knows that even galaxies are connected. Thus she wonders, how words connect or disconnect people.
Why does she seek to connect with others. Does that happen to all people on Earth? Is that why writers write? Do writers write to connect with others or do they write because they can not stop themselves from writing?
Rumi said it well: "Your longing for me is my message to you.
All your attempts to reach me are in reality my attempts to reach you."
Writing is a profession. Writing is a process. Writing is an action. Writing is a bit scary. What part of writing scares Ariadne the most? Brainstorming, drafting, revising, editing or proofreading? The answer is all and sometimes none. Sometimes, she writes enthusiastically like if life was going to end. The puzzle needs to come alive!
She always needs a proofreader, but sometimes no one is available. She knows that some critics could destroy everything they see so she must be careful about the way she receives her critic's comments. It is about the piece. However, she loves great editors and critics. They can help to improve any writer's work by helping them reach clarity.
When Ariadne gets critiques that are really harsh, she mulls them over. Oh, yes, she says it is about the piece. It is not about me, she tell herself. Yet still has to deal with the pain of rejection. At some point she realizes that the editors were correct. She opens her eyes to allow herself to connect with their advice. A new draft is born and the process of writing proceeds.
When she was still self-righteous and a bit mad at the editor, she thinks of the Nobel Prizes who have taken risks with the language and have broken free from the expectations of others. She feels a little rebel. Were they careless or fearless? Geniuses are well known for breaking the rules. Ariadne knows that she is not a genius but dreams of being one.
When she is not dreaming of being a genius, she listens to the voice of reason. At times it may sound like this: "A man [person] who is accurate in his statements and thorough in his work wins our confidence and our admiration. " T.S. McPheeters (In The Beautiful Way, 1902). In order to be an accurate person one needs to "work a long while " says Wordsworth in Ode to Duty. Ariadne knows that if Da Vinci spent countless hours polishing his work, she must also do the same.
Ariadne thinks that writing is the same as living. One makes mistakes while living, then one makes amendments if possible and keep going. Writing shall be seen the same way. There is a time for reflections and revisions, and there is time to let go and keep going.
Margaret Atwood once said, "If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word." Ariadne thinks that perhaps Atwood meant that if she waited for perfection, she would never get published. Because writers always write and write... Sometimes rejections hurts, but eventually the writer will write more, just because, writing is what a writer does.
PS. This story will continue....
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Books about writing
Reflections on writing
© 2011 MSantana