Those of you that follow me on Facebook have seen my tattoos, and each one tells a different story. My “live life” on my wrists is to remind me that there is always another way than committing suicide, my “Quoth the Raven ‘Nevermore'” is an homage of my love of Edgar Allan Poe, plus a reminder of a time when my mom and I would watch old Hammer horror films starring Vincent Price, Basil Rathbone, and Peter Cushing. My symbol on my right arm is a symbol that I have drawn and altered for 28 years, almost like a signature in symbolic form, not unlike the artist Prince went by a symbol at one time to rebel against his record label at the time and finally be his “own” entity. Now, on my writing hand, covering my finger and thumb that I clutch my favorite writing instrument, I got the tattoo, “write with might” to remind me to write with feeling, with emotion, with all the power I can muster and make something that each time I’m proud of, not just something that should be thrown in the trash because it’s another rehash of something that someone did better.
A little extreme? Maybe. But, once again, it means something to me, and it’s another conversation starter that lets others into my world, one more ink at a time.
Over the past month, I’ve had a lot of revelations, mostly about writing, and how I want to follow in the footsteps of writers who have come before me. Last week, I quoted Anne Lamott about taking things “bird by bird.” I showed how that could be changed to fit any situation, for me, taking things day by day, but also tackling parts of a story one piece at a time.
I have a lot of writing books–one audiobook, five or six different Kindle books, and probably ten writing books. Some talk about writing in general, others talk about different parts of the craft, such as dialogue, plot, structure, etc. I even have a two-part book written by K.M. Weiland about outlining your novel that comes with a workbook. Unfortunately, it’s a Kindle version and makes it very difficult to flip back and forth between pages, discerning what you are trying to follow when you’re making your outline to a story. She also teaches the art of writing on her website, Helping Writers Become Authors. I get her newsletters weekly, where she tackles a different subject about writing, and how she recommends attacking it.
About a month or two ago, she had this weekly lesson, and for once, it blew my mind wide open. She insists on stopping listening to people telling you how to write.
Wait. What?! But that goes against everything you have been teaching for years!
She explains in the article that, sure, you want to follow some standard guidelines for writing, but, when it all comes down to it, you are, in reality, writing for yourself and not someone else. And, that is what matters. Sure, you have authors paid to write about characters already done or written like other authors (Kenneth Robeson, the name they use for the writer of many Doc Savage books but have had five or six different authors since it’s inception.)
Okay. So, that is still advice, per se, but she also goes on to tell you to take things you like about other authors and make them your voice. I think that is something all authors, writers, bloggers, “word-crafters” instruct you to do: “read.” Read a lot. Read anything you can get your hands on. Learn from it. It’s not like osmosis for your brain, but it allows you to see and experience how and what other writer’s write.
Write every day. Do you have any idea how hard that is? I’m lucky that I get this blog out on a semi-weekly basis. Sure, there are long breaks that I had between posts, but I worked on one of the hardest stories I have ever written, and I am proud of how it turned out. I also didn’t want to release it at the same time as everyone else was releasing stories showing statistics and how each one was more important than the other. I just wanted to tell my own story of survival. Of hope. But, back to what I was trying to say, is that I want to write every day. I want to create worlds. The only things stopping me are fear and self-doubt. But, I am starting to realize that I have nothing to be afraid of. I need to do this for myself, and the rest will fall into place.
My wife has created a place in our home where I can write. Stephen King once had a desk that sat against a window, with a typewriter and a few other odds and ends, and he wrote, and wrote, and wrote. That’s what my wife has given me; a space to allow me to be alone if I need to, to block out the voices of the outside, and be alone in my little world, surrounded by the things that if I need to, I can take a break and relax. I have a classic video game system shelf, filled with old games, graphic novels, books, Pez dispensers, posters, notebooks, writing utensils, and other distractions, should I need them.
If anybody gets anything from this post, it’s that we all need to find that thing that drives us, and follow it down that dark rabbit hole and embrace it. I know I talked a lot about writing in this post because that’s what does it for me. Maybe for you, it’s “God,” or video games, or books, or binge-watching the newest season of that hot new show everyone is talking about. Run. Walk. Eat the gourmet foods you sweat over for an hour to perfect.
Nike says it best:
“Just Do It.”