Sometimes I think I over-complicate everything. But something that really hit me over the head today (which I had heard on numerous occasions before, but it obviously never hit me hard enough) is that in all things, you just have to do it.
In my fiction writing class there is this theme that is developing – To be a good writer you must write. (no way!!) It doesn’t matter what it is you write, how you write, etc. but you have to start somewhere and in this instance it is to just write. In fact, taking a fiction writing class is almost paradoxical. Any artistic/creative class is in a way. You cannot teach people how to become great writers, artists, musicians, etc. There is no set of rules to follow, there are some normal conventions, but every piece of art and prose is different and unique. Or perhaps, that is how I think it is supposed to be, and how my professor and many others think it is. A quote that I found helpful and inspiring was when Rick DeMarinis said,
” I don’t know how to write a short story even though I’ve written hundreds of them, published five collections of them, sold them to magazines, both litereary and commercial. I have also taught the subject for more than twenty years… But here’s the thing: I don’t have a set of rules, a formula, a system, that tells me how to set about writing a story of literary quality. I don’t have a “how.”… But the hard truth is that there is no system, no set of rules that guarantee able composition or abundant production. There is no magic formula that will make hard work, commitment, inspiration, taste, and good luck unneccessary.” (The Art and the Craft of the Short Story)
Talk about wildly unhelpful to a beginning writer. But at the same time, that is the magic and mystery that attracts me to writing. There is this ability deep down in dark places inside me, but I have to search and scrounge to find it, I have to harness it. And when I do find it, it will be unlike anyone else’s.
So, the only helpful and honest tip about writing that I have gotten is to just start writing. This may seem obvious and make me look stupid that I did not realize it before, but it is so easy to get caught up with the idea of writing and everything that comes about thereafter that can become incredibly daunting.
Before, I had only jotted some ideas down, maybe started two paragraphs and stopped. Writing terrified me. I was so bogged down thinking, “I have to have this amazing idea and really developed characters, an interesting plot, a resolution, an exposition etc,” which really just inhibits me even starting. Once I got past that initial expectation from my writing, I can now truly enjoy it. The knowledge is almost liberating. Of course I will eventually have to revise what I write, but right now I can just enjoy the process (whatever it ends up being.)
Therefore, at the end of the day, as it can be applied to all things and everyone,