Saturday, August 15, 2009

I am, I write, to no one there, and no one heard, not even the chair...until...

I was going to blog about adverbs, dangling participles, etc, (and I will come back to that) but today I want to address what someone wrote in the comments below: “You know all that is what kind of halts me in writing. It just overwhelms me and then I block. I like blogging because I have the feel of freely writing. I guess it is a bit of a quirk.”

Never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never NEVER NEVER NEVER let anything stop you from writing if this is what you want to do and you are ready to discipline yourself to it—no one else on this earth or beyond should stand in your way: no advice from well-meaning writers, no rules, no nuttin’.
I had to get to a certain point in my writing before the advice made sense –Hear that: I had to know how to sit down and write and find out what kind of writer I’d be before all the “rules” began to make sense, and only then could I use them, manipulate them, have fun with them—and I’m still having fun. Until I was at that point, I practiced and I took in a little at a time until it made sense to me.

Trust me when I say that if you really want to write a novel, or stories, then you must practice your craft and the only way to practice is to just sit down and write. As you practice, you will figure out what works for you, what your “voice” is, what your “tics” are, what your weaknesses and strengths are, what delights you and urges you on and what frustrates you and makes you want to stop writing. You will find out your own personal style of writing in both how you write and what you write.

But listen! If you are happy writing blog posts, what is wrong with that? If you write a successful blog and people come to your site and leave happy interested comments, are you not a success? Are you not writing for an audience who loves coming by and seeing what you have written?

When I began writing my first novel, what would become Tender Graces, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing; I didn’t even know how to write dialogue! But I had desire. I had discipline. I had want. I just wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote and things began to come clear as to my own style and voice and what made me feel comfortable. I wrote 200,000 words and most of those had to be trashed or re-casted or fiddle-dee-deed, but, boy did I have fun, and boy did I learn much about what kind of writer I’d be. I was writing for an audience of one: Me. That is free-ing, let me tell you!

Don’t let the “rules” or advice of others stop you or scare you or make you feel as if you are somehow lacking if you don’t write in a certain way—just write and in the writing find out who you are, what kind of writer you are, what you love to write, and how you will write. I can’t stress this enough. Find what makes you happy and do it.

If the writing feels strained and you want to back away from it, then find out what is hindering you: Are you writing for someone else? Are you listening to too many writers (like me!) give advice and it confuses you? Are you straining towards something that isn’t meant for you?

Stop. Sit in your chair. Open a word doc (or pull out pen and paper) and Begin. Just have some fun, see what comes out. Who cares of you have so just very little; who cares if there are many adverbs and present participles and dangling participles and similes and blah blah blah blah—how will you know what you want until you sit down and begin? How will you know what makes you happy until you write it without restraint?

You all would laugh your arses off if you could see some of my first attempts at writing stories. So what? I laugh too! Haw! But I also see how far I’ve come, how much I’ve learned and how much more I can learn.

Sit. Breathe. Tune out the voices. Have fun. And, write how and what you want, and where and for whom you want. Be sincere.

Dig it out from the you that is uniquely you. No one is like you.

(I missed Friday Shoot outs! I hope to get to that later....and Update on Maggie Lou--she is doing so much better; this second medicine, and some special diet dog food she'll be on for 3 days, has made the entire difference! Yayyyy!)

PS: I will be at Malaprops Bookstore & Cafe tonight at 7PM, Asheville NC, for a Tender Graces reading signing-hope to see you if you are in the area!


Sandra Leigh said...

Great news about Maggie Lou!

Thank you for your timely advice, Kathryn. I have been in avoidance mode lately, but I have promised myself that today is the day I will apply arse to chair and get some proper writing done.

As for you, you are going to knock 'em dead at Malaprops.

Deb Shucka said...

Great advice and inspiration! Thanks. So glad Maggie is getting better. Poor thing.

Have a great time tonight. Wish I could be there.

Lazy Writer said...

Have a great time at the signing! I wish I lived close by so I could come!

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

That advice is good for ANY undertaking. Success, as I think it was William Faulkner (but he might have been citing Thomas Edison) said, is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Yep, never give up!

Analisa said...

Loved this post. I too have those moments when the nuts and bolts of writing threaten to shut me down.

I have a story in my head I want to get on paper. So I try to write anyway.

P.S. I am glad your pubs liked the review!

Cathy said...

I am so happy that your doggie is doing better.

Great advice for the writer.

t i m said...

Inspiring words Ms Thryn,

I used to write regularly [on a previous blog site b4 my current one] getting an umpteen amount of readers every week which way a joy, but then I got carpal tunnel & subsequently got somewhat lazy so a novel is eons away.

I’ve noted I tend to do my best work only when I have fixed deadlines, so at some point I’ll have to dig dip & find the discipline to get back into it, if I’m to achieve my distant dream of writing TV dialogue for a living.

In the meantime I’m enjoying a bit of reading & while I normally cheat by opting for the audio version I’ve just finished this reading wonderful book called Tender Graces just the day which was terrific. I can only predict big things for the author whose words painted a picture that aptly both delighted & tugged at the heartstrings in equal measure; I strongly doubt you’ve heard of the said writer though. How ‘ornery’ of me. ;)

Patty said...

Great advice for everyone. Even people who are not interested in writing professionally can enjoy writing.

I have absolutely no training in writing but I have written for two daily newspapers on a regular basis, and a magazine. I even wrote a feature story for the Christian Science Monitor.

In 1986, my photo editor allowed to me write my first feature story and he gave me some tips; among them become a part of not only your subject but your surroundings.

I wrote from the heart and let the copy editors worry about the commas, or lack of.

Now writing does not come easy for me. It takes me two weeks to write a feature story. I am photographer - not a writer, but when I meet interesting people I want to write.

I urge everyone to write. You never know. You just may come up with a bestseller. A few mistakes don't matter. Publishers look at content. If we were all perfect writers copy editors would have no jobs!

Jessica said...

Wonderful advice! There have been times I've been paralyzed by "rules" but now I'm learning to do what you said above, and just write.
There is disciplined involve, but it should make us better, not more scared.

I'm so glad Maggie is doing better. :-)

Have fun at your book signing!

Debbie said...

I can't wait to hear how Malaprops went. You're probably still sleeping off the celebrity:)

Glynis said...

Oh how I wish I could be in Malaprops, I would shake your hand, hug you and give you a big MWAH for this post!! I needed to read those wonderful words, thank you Kat.
*breathing again* *skipping free, throwing pens and paper in the air*
"writing for me, writing for me".

Seriously though, I need a tad more discipline lately, so will knuckle down to some serious working hours.