John has many years of writing experience in poetry, short fiction and text for children's books. Basically, he just loves to write.
How to Write (The Gospel of Jodah)
It is said that to be a successful writer you need - practice - practice - practice, and that you should try to write something every day. This is great advice but sometimes seems easier said than done.
Apart from the normal rigors of a busy life infringing on the time available for writing you also need to be able to find inspiration and (at least to you) interesting subjects to write about.
The truth is, anyone can be a writer. If you are blessed with even just a basic level of literacy (the ability to read and write) you can be a writer. You don't have to able to spell perfectly or have faultless grammar and punctuation. Hell! You don't even need to know what these words mean. Well to be a professional writer these assets are certainly a big help, but hey, we can't all be and don't strive to be professional. Some of us just write for the pleasure of taking a pen and writing something down on paper (or finger to keyboard), to be creative, to motivate ourselves, to express our love for friends and family.
A lot, if not most, writing is created with an audience in mind and dollar signs swirling around in one's head. We all have to make a living it's true, but that doesn't have to 'be the be all and end all' of why to write. Many of us have 'real' jobs and just need to fit in writing as a hobby in between the 9 to 5 grind, looking after kids or taking them to school, doing housework, maintaining the garden, mowing the lawn, grocery shopping etc etc.
So, it is ok just to take time out occasionally, sit back in your comfiest chair with a cup of coffee and a journal, notebook or maybe iPad, and write. Just for your own recreation and pleasure. Just write random thoughts, anything that springs into your head. Don't even think about who else would like what you are writing or if it will attract a million views on the Internet and make money. Just sit quietly, and write for YOU!
My Way (Not Frank Sinatra's)
All 'writers' are different and have their own methods and idiosyncrasies as to how they approach writing.
My way is to sit down at my desk, open my journal/notebook (I have one in almost every room of the house and in the car. You never know when inspiration may hit), pick up a pen and just let words appear. Often what develops totally surprises me.
I love my desk. It is the only part of the house (well apart from my workshop) that I can call 'my own'. I get a warm fuzzy feeling when I sit down in the old antique wooden chair that used to be at my father's desk in the office where he worked. Maybe it's the chair that has some magical powers that possess me when I sit in it..inspiring me to write. Who knows.
Anyway, when I sit down at my desk I usually have no preconceived idea or plan for a topic, or even if I feel like writing poetry, a short story, or article, but miraculously things seem to happen.
Even if I am not 100% happy with what eventuates I rarely throw it in the trash. Often days, weeks, months or even years later I will pull out my old note books or files of drafts and find myself finally inspired to edit and complete some of these unfinished or imperfect musings. The finished results are often remarkable and surprise even me.
This is how quite a few of my articles are created. Some are stories or poems I wrote maybe 20 years ago and had forgotten about. On re-reading them I think, "Hmm, this isn't too bad. I think I can actually rework this story/poem into something readable." Then 'voila', in a few days this old forgotten writing is resurrected into something 'new' or 'current', and I am often blown-away by the wonderful responses I receive from my fellow hubbers and readers.
I am then left to wonder, "Why didn't I finish this off years ago?" Obviously the timing wasn't right and it had to wait until I joined this writing site.
Examples of my reworked stories and poems can be found throughout my articles.
Does anyone else work this way, or is it just me?
Everything Happens for a Reason
I believe that anything I am directed to put to paper must have a reason or purpose. Eventually that purpose will be revealed when the time is right. Then I will publish it. Maybe it contains an important message that a particular person needs to read at a chosen time, and God has a purpose for holding it back.
I believe that all things happen for a reason. Sometimes something happens that may disappoint you at the time, but in hindsight turns out to have been a blessing or was postponed for a greater purpose. You may write an article, poem, or story and feel disappointed with the result, even consider disposing of it and writing something else instead. Well, I urge you to pause and just consider for a moment.
Don't Ditch It!
Ok, reflecting on the above, consider that message in regard to your writing. Don't throw any of your work away thinking it is trash or that no one else could relate to it. If you aren't pleased with what you have written, just place it in a drawer or wherever to review it at a later time.
I am a bit of a hoarder I admit, and don't like to throw anything away. I try to find a use for most things and usually succeed. I even have some sketches and drawings that I began years ago but never finished, but put aside until I was inspired to complete them.
I also find it interesting to look back through my old notebooks and writing journals because as soon as I pick up a pen or pencil in the vicinity of paper, I start to doodle. So while writing I am also drawing and my pages are covered in, not just text, but weird sketches of everything imaginable. It's one of the main reasons I prefer to do my drafts on paper rather than the computer.
So, save your work! There will be a right time for it to be seen. There may be a depressed person out there who is ready to give up on life. Your story or poem may convey the perfect inspirational words they need to convince them to give life another go. Your words may actually save a life!
To me, this would be a much better barometer of the success of my writing than making hundreds or thousands of dollars. Imagine being able to say, "My writing turned someone's life around for the better, or stopped them from committing suicide."
Persistence Pays Off
I recently checked my email and was excited to find an email that went like this:
"Thank you for your submission to We Go On – A Veteran’s Anthology for Charity. At this time I am thrilled to offer you acceptance for your fiction Story, Just a Humble Hero. Before I can send a contract, I will need your Real Name and Pen Name, as well as an address which is only for contract purposes, but later will use to send you a copy of the anthology. After that, I will send you a contract for non-exclusive rights to publish your submission........Thank You, Kiki"
I have been submitting a large number of poems to competitions and for consideration for publication in journals etc. This was the first short story I have submitted so I was surprised to have it accepted. It just confirms that you should be patient and never give up. Persistence does pay off.
The Wise Ones
There are many writers here who are more qualified than I to instruct you in the art of writing, the correct way to structure a story, to use grammar and punctuation. They can tell you how to develop your characters, or how to write surprise endings for flash fiction. Others can teach you the correct use of rhyme and meter in the many different forms of poetry. Still others are experts on marketing strategies and how to promote your work to generate optimum sales.
I don't claim to be an expert on any of that. What I offer here is just my own humble advice and insight on how I approach writing. I hope you found it interesting, or even better, helpful or inspiring in some way.
Thank you for reading, and I leave you with my last piece of advice; Write from the Heart.
People with Knowledge of Writing
These are just a few of the experienced and qualified hubbers who I'm sure would be only too happy to provide writing advice. Check out their hubs.
Bill Holland (billybuc) : for all writing related advice (bar poetry)
Shauna L Bowling (bravewarrior) : freelance writing advice
Rachel O'Halloran : copyright issues
Marie Flint : punctuation, grammar, poetry
chef-de-jour : poetry and drama
annart : punctuation and grammar
© 2014 John Hansen