To many individuals, writing is a seemingly complicated process with a myriad of steps and procedures. There’s this perception that writing has to be formulaic, bind by certain directives, and be conducted in a particular manner. This misconception however has stemmed the hand of many aspiring writers. It has to be reinforced that writing, no matter the type, does not have to abide by any manual-like set of steps. It is a malleable, fluid process. The step towards becoming a writer involves two major components, none of which require one to follow strict guidelines or hard rules.
The first of these steps is crucial in the lead up to writing. Just as a child must crawl before he or she runs, an aspiring writer must read. While people might read dozens of documents, articles, texts, and other such mediums on a daily basis, this is often done passively and without any intent. A writer should be careful in reading a host of mediums and should pay close attention to all of them. Indeed, the takeaway here is that reading exposes individuals to new ideas, new styles, and general trends utilized in certain genres. Reading will highlight patterns and deeper thoughts. All of this has an adverse impact on your own conscious form of writing. As you read, you will begin to see what stylistic choices you appreciate more than others. You might begin to notice what overarching themes or motifs are used in certain styles of writing. Analyzing items like syntax and diction might point to smaller, more hidden details that open the literary door wider. These observations and thoughts are important in developing your own style of writing. Items like style, organization, and literary construction are all dependent on you as the author, and if you are not exposed to a variety of these elements, then how can you know what works best for you?
The next step is in some ways more crucial than the first. Write. Clichés stacked on top of clichés have talked about the hardest part of any journey being the first step. Too many individuals psyche themselves out before even beginning the first step. Many people place too much on emphasis on initial failures, placing way too much weight on things like “wasted time” and “bad ideas.” Many activities require practice; they require one to learn from previous mistakes. Choosing to not write because of these fears is an admission of defeat before anything has even began. Don’t get caught up on the easy traps. There’s a Simpson’s gag that demonstrates. Lisa is trying to work on a piece but has to go through several rituals before she feels ready to begin. In the end, no writing happens. Eliminate this stereotype, forget the rituals. All you need to do is simply write out whatever idea you’ve kept in your head. Lay it out on paper. Keep writing. Set a word count for each upcoming day. If you never write, then you’ll never know what went wrong. Without learning from what’s wrong, you’ll never see what’s right.
It is important to note that these two steps are not separate entities. Rather, they work in tandem with one another, linking up in a sort of symbiotic harmony. As you write out your work, disregarding any self-conceived fears, you should be engaging in a host of reading materials. As you gain new ideas and new strategies, reexamine the passages you’ve already written. Your exposure to new stylistic choices and writing techniques will help you become more critical of the work you’ve already written, whilst giving you new options to explore and play with in your upcoming sections. As simple as it sounds, the only way to better yourself as a writer is to simply practice. Just read and write. Don’t boggle yourself down in complicated rituals or detailed directives. You don’t need the right environment or the perfect incense. All you need is a writing instrument and some books. In the end, the more you do, the better you’ll get.
By: Edwin Tran