This will be the first of hopefully many posts on the art, craft, and creation of writing. It will be by no means extensive or the magical one-stop shop for all aspiring writers needs. What this will be, is a journal on my thoughts and experiences that I’ve had as a would-be writer. Lord willing, I become some sort of successful writer one day and this will help other writers go from dreamers to creators. And most importantly, save them from the mistakes that I made.
Where I Am
To understand where I am I guess I need to start where I began.
First of all, my status is: unpublished. Pretty gutsy for a guy who hasn’t had a single word written to think that one day people would want to come back and hear what I had to say about the process. Call it cocky, call it confident. I think I’m a pretty good writer and I hope that one day my work will reach an audience. An audience that includes future writers.
It all began with an idea, a what if that rolled around my mind. I am keeping my work’s title private now, so we’ll just call it Red Corvette. Like most story tellers, I had this idea for a story, the big event that happens in Red Corvette. It ate at me and ate at me, until I had enough and thought that I wanted to write this. I needed to write.
So where do you start as a writer when you haven’t written anything in your life?
That was the question that I had, like most writers. I grew up poor and was a high school dropout. The closest thing I ever came to a creative writing class was when I went to community college and took a pre-English 101 class, because I failed to place. There was a time where we free wrote for sometime in our class in our journals. I loved it! But like most of my schooling endeavors, I quit.
I bring this up because I want to bang home the fact that I have had zero creative writing teaching classes. If you hate my work, you probably already knew that. No fancy diploma or literary background. Just a kid from the barrios of West Side Phoenix and a dream.
So how did I start off my writing? With perseverance.
When you don’t know something, the first thing you do is search the Internet and I was no different. I read tons of articles and blog posts. Read some posts on message boards. But mostly, I searched Amazon for books on writing.
I told myself that I would buy one, maybe two, books on writing. That was nearly forty books ago. I cannot stress enough how important it is to buy, and read, books on the craft. More on that later.
The first book I bought was The 90-Day Novel, by Alan Watt. After looking at so many books, I finally decided on that one. It was getting great reviews and it seemed to answer my questions I had about writing. The results were instantaneous. Just after the first exercises I was rockin’ and rollin’, getting the creative thoughts from my head onto paper. It was great.
Not sure how long after that, maybe a week or two, but then my writing fizzled out. I won’t blame the book, heck, I give it the highest recommendation since it helped me start my path to writing, but it was too unstructured for me. I didn’t know that at the time, but it was my first real foray into the writing process.
It had done it’s job though. I knew I could write, and more importantly, I loved it! I knew there was something there. I just needed the right guidance.
So again I went to the World Wide Web and continued to search and search. I came across a writing workshop by Holly Lisle. Again, highest recommendations. What sold me on one of her products, How to Think Sideways, was her wonderful book, Mugging the Muse. This book is jam packed with tons of stuff that every new writer should be aware of. I bought the How to Think Sideways course and was well on my way to becoming a creative writer.
Then I went to a hemophilia summer camp.
I am not blaming the interruption of my studies for the fact that I was not getting everything out of the course. More than not, it had fallen into the same issue that happened with my first book; I got what I needed from it.
These two resources are invaluable but I needed more. So I broke my rule and I bought another book on the craft (art) of writing.
And then I bought more. And then more.
I have now bought quiet a bit of e-books on writing and their paper counter parts. I have probably spent about three to four-hundred dollars on writing material. If you’re scoffing at this, old Tony would have too! But now I realize, that as someone who had no education in writing, spending under $500 was nothing compared to all the knowledge and insight I’d be missing if I didn’t buy them. In fact, it pales in comparison to what people pay in college. That wouldn’t even cover a semester of a creative writing school!
So I guess that’s what my first, major point is. Get as many resources as possible. You don’t need to buy them, but it doesn’t hurt. Start by reading what other aspiring writers do. Go to kboards Writer’s Cafe. Trust me, I wish I would have done this earlier. Do an Internet search of [your favorite author] and [writing process]. More times than not, you’ll get some cool links to some interviews they have given.
Also, diversify your intake. Don’t just read about writing, check out videos, and listen to audio books. My favorite audio book is the inspiration to the title of this blog post, Stephan King’s On Writing. Part autobiography, part writing class, it is all great to listen to the master talk about the craft of writing and his journey. Plus, since he reads it, it’s probably the only time most of us will get to hang out with the man.
And finally, just do it. Just write. Something. Anything. Don’t wait for perfect conditions. If you’re reading this now, odds are you’re on the Internet so that means you’re on a computer. Close your Internet browser and open up a text document and just start writing. Every computer has one, even the most basic text DOS will work.
Don’t have a computer? Grab a pen and a piece of paper. Just write already! The hardest part is starting. Stop waiting for the stars to aline. Tip: they never will. Read about writing. Watch about writing. Listen about writing. And most importably, write. I don’t care if it’s a pencil on a napkin or an envelope, just start doing the most important thing when it comes to writing; getting into the habit of actually writing. Then you step back from that envelope, and if you want, you can toss those few sentences away in the trash can. But everything will be different. You’ll no longer be someone who wishes they were a writer, but you’ll officially be one, a writer.
Welcome to the club.