Have you ever had that feeling when you have so much to say but you don’t think anyone wants to listen? When you are certain your opinion should matter, but you don’t say anything? Well I have. I have had it for the past 19 years of my life, it’s only now I can tell you what it’s really like.
Being the only Art inclined member of my family, it’s safe to say I never saw myself writing this article. I have never been the sports type or the cool type, so I never thought anyone would find me interesting enough to be reading this piece. But I write you now because Writing changed my life.
I used to be the quiet kid. You could probably guess I had a voice, but you never heard it. I remember making up stories in my head and playing with toys until I turned 13. Physical activities which strain the muscles and made me pant were never my forte. I wasn’t a nerd or anything like that, but after seeing an old picture of me, I get why you would think so.
Of course the other boys thought I was weak and ripe for the picking. They thought I was boring and maybe I believed them too, until I got admitted into the University, where I would experience first-hand what Ethan Hawke meant by “You never really know how much you need Art until something tragic happens.”
My roommate died. His life ended so suddenly I couldn’t control my sleep waking sniffles and unexpected wails. We weren’t particularly friends, but losing someone you saw smiling and laughing three days before, can really mess you up. The only way, I could control myself was to write. I poured all my pain into that paper. Every word, every line meant something. I still get jitters reading that poem. It felt intimately shameless of me to express my pain that way, so plainly anyone could read.
Even now, you can imagine my skepticism when a friend of mine suggested I send this poem out for publication. For two weeks I battled with the idea. What if the editors didn’t like it? I pondered. What if I’m not a good writer? Sure enough, my poem was rejected more times than I can count. I got tired of opening emails that began with “Thank you for thinking of us…”. It was months later, playing a game with my friend, that I searched my name on Google and I saw the news. The Gaze was published in New York City by Adelaide Literary Magazine in 2019 and I wasn’t ashamed anymore. I knew that day, I had found my thing.
Today, I walk chest out and head high, knowing fully well who I am. I may not be spotty, cool or even the brightest firefly in the jar, but I know I tell one heck of a story. Ladies don’t find me boring anymore because Writing gives me purpose, ambition and the opportunity to be better.
While many of my pieces have been published since, and despite my rare, if not damn right miraculous start-up as a writer, I still find writing tasking.
Is it possible to love something so much, you wish you didn’t have to do it? Maybe, because what I hate most about writing, is the writer’s block.
Since March 2021, I have vowed to get at least three works published each month. Oh! It has worked so far and I love it. But some days, I don’t just know what to write about. On days like those, I help myself with three simple hacks and they work.
Always write Honestly
American Author Ethan Hawke
Writing about something you know is always a good way to start. Most times, I don’t have to know about the people I write about, to tell their stories. All I need to know is the feeling. Most writers don’t empathize. They prefer to float above the stories they tell, play God, rather than placing themselves in the scene itself.
In Neil Gaiman’s Master Class on storytelling, he emphasizes the need for any writer to be truthful. “All fiction has to be as honest as you can make it.” He says “Don’t tell people how they should feel. Tell them what happened and let them feel”. This advice is common with most writers including George R. R. Martin, the author of Game of Thrones who is fond of saying “Write what you know!”
Show Not Tell
I often use this hack when I get stuck relaying sequence over and over. It’s important to let readers see through your words. What do you make of this description of the iron throne by George Martin? “The breath of the greatest dragon forged the Iron Throne…the swords of the vanquished, a thousand of them, melted together like so many candles…” Are you not starting to get the picture? Even the bible describes rather than tells. The writers give a background of what is happening, describe Goliath and compares him to the weapons and height of David. All great storytellers describe. While it may be storytelling, the story is more important than the telling.
Never Edit Immediately
Most of us are obsessed with writing the perfect piece, we kill our ideas before they are ready to blossom. No matter how bad the spelling, how bad the grammar or the sequence, I don’t try to edit my work until I am done writing. You will always find something wrong in your piece; a wrong comma, a disruptive reading flow or worse, so you should continue. Do not get stuck thinking of why you need to change something, instead of letting your idea flow from your mind into the paper. Writing is a process and It happens step by step.
You should try them when you get stuck on a blank page. The second they work, you will begin to enjoy what I now Experiencing. Oh! And the day your work gets published, you can bet the everything on the new emotions you will begin to feel daily as a writer.