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How I Found My Joyous Writing Groove and Maybe How You Can, Too
Learning How to Become a Successful Writer and Loving Every Minute of It
I recently read an article called "Does Your Writing Career Suck? Five Ways to Unplug Life Support and Gain Success" which lead me to ponder what I was doing to become a successful writer. While Billy Buc's idea of spending at least 10,000 hours at the craft to reach proficiency was a good one and not, I think, entirely wrong, I don't think that's nearly enough.
I think that writing is difficult to approach the same way as learning any other occupation. I think too much of the raw materials for the finished product of success come from the writer herself to think of writing in the same way as auto repair or floral designing.
One can walk away from auto repair at the end of a day at work and everything you need to do your work the next day that doesn't already reside inside your brain will be sitting there in the garage. The same applies to the floral designer; she can leave the shop at night and the flowers will be waiting for her in the morning or a quick phone call will bring them to her doorstep. A writer has to produce the words from somewhere inside herself so she has to keep manufacturing the words and the ideas to tuck them into even as she's putting on her pajamas at night.
I've noticed that my writing doesn't begin to really flow, to fall from my fingers in cataracts unless I take the effort to look at the world like a writer as I'm just going about living my life. I'd like you to go on my journey with me for a moment or so and see what it takes to put my writing into a joyous groove where it pulls me along like gravity on a water slide. I hope you can enjoy that ride, too, as life is so much more enjoyable when others are enjoying themselves, too.
So sit back, fix yourself a cup of tea, and try to catch some droplets of joy from my words as I put you in the back seat of my favorite wild ride.
Where Do Baby Writers Come From?
I started writing when I was a child. As soon as I learned that words could represent my thoughts and be shared with others who might find them interesting, I put crayon to paper and wrote. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if you had done the same.
I wrote my first short story in early 1973, complete with illustrations. The text read something like this - "This is Blob. Blob lives in a cave. The End." Blob also apparently had a bit of pocket money because Blob had two very large lion statues guarding the entrance of her cave. I commissioned my sister to write my mom's recipe for popcorn balls on the back of my crudely stapled homemade book.
Before you criticize, I was only three at the time.
The book was a disaster and my drawing skills were pathetic, but it was my very first step toward being a writer, my first few hours logged and deposited in the bank of my writing skills. If you look back far enough into your memories, you may find something similar there. While peering in the shadowed corners of your mental writing vault looking for that early memory, scan for bright colors and sparks of light.
The reason I ask you to seek that first writing memory is to help you capture it like a firefly in a jar to light your way when things get dark in your writing mental space. Thinking about that first book of mine makes the memory easier to pull up when I'm in need of recharging. Even though I find myself wordless as to which emotions I was experiencing so very far back, I feel them as I hold the memory of that first story. Whatever they are, they make me want to write like I want a piece of chocolate drizzled raspberry cheesecake after a two day fast. And the writing is just as heavenly as the first bite of decadence all the way down until it hits the white space it isn't yet ready to fill.
So gather that first writing memory to yourself and take a look at it. For me it's incredibly vivid and, over the years, I've pondered why it is so clear and bright and detailed. I wondered why I smelled a whiff of fresh crayons when I thought about holding that lousy little book in my hand. I wondered why I could still see my struggling hand pushing the yellow-gold waxy stick across off-white paper. I'm pretty sure it's because it happened before I stopped living moment to moment, when nothing was a decades old routine.
Children seem to experience every moment until they become involved in repetitive tasks and learn to focus on those tasks alone.
Live in the Moment and Notice the World Around You
Living in the moment seems to produce my most vivid memories. I've learned that my most vivid memories are the easiest to capture in words others find captivating. Expressing those memories in words has taught me how to express the landscapes and characters of my imagination in words that offer up images and the physical sensations of feelings.
So give it a try, take a moment and examine where you are right now as if it were the most fascinating television show on earth, complete with surround sound, feel-o-vision, and a full complement of fascinating fragrances. Smell your coffee and your next door neighbor's vegetable curry that's come wafting in from the hallway. Hear the birds outside your window and feel the chair beneath your butt as it shapes to cradle you in comfort or lumps up in vindictive silence, slowly assaulting your lower back. Take it in and recognize it's different than any other moment you've ever experienced or ever will again.
A True Story Taken from Living in the Moment
- The Ashes of a Lion's Heart: A Story about Momma
This is the story of an epiphany felt in a time of grief, intended to help others learn to see the parts of their lost loved ones they still have.
Realize Your Life is Interesting
It's probably only you who finds your life boring, if anyone does at all. Each life is unique and that's something we all have in common. So we can relate to each other when others can identify parts of themselves in things we describe experiencing that they'll never know firsthand. Our words can give others memories that add to the richness of experience in their lives.
No one is experiencing life quite the way you are right now and probably quite a few would be fascinated to get insight into the way even ordinary things make other people think and feel.
Be confident in speaking your inner voice if you feel you have something to say. Someone is bound to be interested if you are.
Stories From My Completely Unexceptional, Ordinary Life
- How I Fell Madly In Love With Science
Follow one child's mad plunge into head-over-heels love with science and the world of the very, very tiny. Find out how it shaped her life and inspired her to write possibilities and far away worlds.
- My Favorite Times from the Seventies
In late April of 1970 my parents moved to a farm on the outskirts of a small town insulated in a change-resistant bubble just three months after I was born. It was an interesting place and time to grow up, rural West Michigan in the seventies and...
Think About What You Are Doing When You Are Doing It
So every morning when you get up you take your vitamins, eat your breakfast, and brush your teeth. Have you ever bothered to think about why you do those things the way you do? Or do you just do them on auto-pilot, treat them as tasks to tick off a list of things that must be done?
I've noticed that, comforting as a routine may be, it loses its comfort when I stop really putting the thought towards feeling and making note of what I'm doing. I've found doing the same things the same way day-after-day without thinking or really experiencing them makes time slip by far too fast for comfort. It's like each new memory of hitting the snooze alarm is stacked atop another, identical in every way until I can't remember if I've hit the snooze alarm already on any given day. The memory of actually doing things becomes a sketchy symbol rather than a full-surround experience just a bit different from last time the action was done.
It's no wonder time slips by too fast to even know it's going by when my memory is getting filled with shorthand too much. When my memory sits static and repeats every day, my experience feels more like opening a dusty dictionary to an impersonal definition of a word than reading an adventure novel I've never read before that starts with something unique but perfectly mundane.
But if I take the time to notice what's going around me and think what I'm doing and why, I find I have plenty of time for everything I need to do and plenty of time to enjoy every word I write, no matter how many hours sit free ahead of me on the hands of a clock. I also find I know what I've already done and what I have yet to do. I also don't worry about whether or not I shut off the coffee machine or unplugged my curling iron before I left the house because I remember whether I have or not.
An Article Born of Thinking About the What and Why of Things I've Done
- What to Buy if You are Homeless
If you're homeless and trying to figure out how to spend a small amount of money to best effect this list may help. It has also proven useful to charities creating care packages for homeless people.
Write What Sets Your Mind on Fire With Feelings
For me, that's social issues and an examination of the human condition and existence. It's also the sensual pleasures of life, like dark chocolate, sex, and writing by a campfire with ash and marshmallow on my hands.
For me it's also science fiction, where I can make drawings of social issues and the human condition using words that parallel pieces of reality, maybe just enough to get other people to see them in a different light.
For you, it's likely something else, but if you look hard enough, I'm sure you'll find out where your passion lies already or where it eventually might.
Fiction Stories Written with My Mind on Fire with Feelings about the World while Surfing Down a Joyous Groove
- A Grave of Flesh and Bone, a Short Story by Kylyssa Shay
Lindy held the sonogram in trembling hands. She was 72 years old; there was no way she could be pregnant even if she hadn't been celibate for the past 7 years. But the image clearly showed a fetus.
- Your Personal Best, a Science Fiction Story, Part 1
Megan's dreams are full of floating bubbles of blood and her origin is unknown, but her life has been completely ordinary up until now. Strange new abilities reawaken her curiosity about her past.
- Gift of the Gruldak, a Serialized Science Fiction Novel by Kylyssa Shay
Do you like tiny robots, bizarre aliens, monsters, and misfits? Why not read the first installment of Gruldak? This serialized science fiction novel is free to read online. It was written in a state of near-ecstasy and definite delight.
See, Smell, Taste, and Hear Clearly the Stories You Wish to Write
As I touch fingers to injection-molded plastic squares inscribed with symbols that represent sounds, I keep the image of the memory I wish to create firmly in my mind. As I look around the world I've created in my head find my fingers tripping over themselves trying to put its description in words fast enough to catch the richness of my ideas. It feels a bit like catching a perfect wave or getting kissed by a thousand tiny raindrops on a sunny summer day. I hope you can feel it, too.
© 2015 Kylyssa Shay