Learn how to find your writer's voice and create engaging scenarios
How can a young person of 10-years to 18-years-of-age make a start writing short stories of a few hundred words?, and then find the discipline, commitment, and focus necessary to hone their craft.
Learning to appreciate the craft of writing doesn't mean churning out words; it means slowing down, observing your world with keen interest, and looking for material within yourself and your surroundings.
Learn how to find your writer's voice and create engaging scenarios that come to life in your articles, stories, and opinion pieces. And with this, you will likely develop the confidence to write regularly.
Our heroic, brilliant subconscious is working out a problem as it stumbles towards beauty
Your story is not a recipe; it’s an organic, evolving system that is coming forth from our subconscious on its own peculiar schedule.
Any writer who’s ever been on the other side of the workshop process can attest, it can be… not fun. The writer can end up feeling bruised but unenlightened; despairing, embarrassed, even, like a suitor who pays for a big firework display to spell out his proposal and then gets rejected. We spilled out our guts in that story, we were dancing so wildly — why is everybody just sitting there? Why is my beautiful ode to life being treated like a bag full of problems?
The problem with this approach is that it fails to see a beautiful story for what it really is: the culmination of a series of revisions.
That is: every good story evolves in waves.
Learning to appreciate the craft of writing means sharing everything that happens to you and around you.
While there's no secret formula to becoming a good writer, there are some essential steps. The first step is learning how to relax, stand apart from people and observe closely.
You know the kind of people you notice standing in the corner at a party, watching everyone? Good writers are a similar breed: they often distance themselves from the crowd, observing and taking notes.
In other words, it pays to pay attention. Take time to observe everything around you: the curious gait of a stranger, the unique way the morning light catches a friend's profile, how thinking about a childhood memory makes you feel.
There's another reason that observing and noting your world is critical in becoming a good writer. The best writing conveys the truth; the observations you collect will help you reveal the truth.
Whether you believe that your observations will make good material isn't essential. Your main task is to try to find the truth in what you've observed and figure out how to use those observations to tell your story.
That way, the truth will naturally find its way into your writing.
Don't be afraid to draw on past experiences as your primary material. For example, take the time to reflect on and write about childhood and other memories. After all, as a writer, you're lucky enough to look at life from any angle you want. You can turn over events in your memory like fallow earth, digging for the truth buried deep.
Taking a trip into your memory bank is justified as long as you make sure to look carefully and write from your viewpoint as truthfully as you can. So, it would help if you examined yourself the same way you question everything around you.
To find your voice, you have to be honest with your reader.
There's one thing that defines good writing. The writer develops a "voice" – a distinctive style that includes the nuances of a story and how it captures the reader's imagination.
You can only develop your voice by being honest with the reader about your true feelings.
You can't discover your authentic voice without opening some emotional doors and facing the truths behind them. That is your primary role as a writer: to find and confront whatever feelings those doors are hiding and to articulate them in words that reflect the truth of your feelings.
This principle holds even when you're feeling profound grief or toxic anger. The only way to ensure your voice reflects those emotions is to face them and accept them during the writing process. You need to do this, especially when you feel something holding your words back: for instance, if your feelings are too private or too painful to examine closely.
To accept your feelings, you have to be present in them – in other words, to be fully aware of how you feel at any given moment. If you avoid your emotions or merely think about them without fully entering and being present in them, you'll never be true to yourself or your readers.
When you are present in your feelings, you come to understand that your reality – composed of all your experiences and emotions, both good and bad – is very much your home. It becomes a comfortable place to be, and you can be your true self there.
Once you accept this, you'll begin to feel comfortable with the full spectrum of your emotions – and you'll be on your way to finding your own writer's voice.
Have faith in your ability to write, even when you think you're not doing a great job
Another thing that all good writers have in common is that they don't worry about whether they're good writers!
If you believe that you should write with every fiber of your being, then write. You'll improve and be proud of your craft with time and practice.
Of course, that doesn't mean it will be easy. There will be miserable days where you'll stare at a blank page or screen for hours. But there will also be days when everything clicks, and the words flow.
The main thing to remember is that every day has something to offer if you're patient and determined enough to see it.
For young writers, this kind of faith is helpful. Even though you may not be a confident writer from the start, you will hone your craft if you persist.
Along the way, you may also develop a natural yearning for the act of writing, the same way that someone might yearn to play sports or music.
By having faith that you'll become a good writer, the initial frustration of not writing as brilliantly as you had hoped will slowly recede by the sheer love of reading or speaking your words.
Another way that faith is crucial to writing is that writers have to believe in their position. If you don't believe in your words, it's unreasonable to expect your readers to have faith in you.
How do you generate such belief?
Please make an effort to understand life and care about it deeply. That entails taking a long, hard look at the intricacies of everyday life and not just the significant, dramatic events.
Write about everything important to you. Only then will you feel connected with your story and find the right words.
To become a good writer, establish a writing routine
A common assumption about writers, and all artists, is that they only work when inspiration strikes.
Yet all good writers follow a routine. If you want to become a better writer, you should do the same.
Why? Because routine means discipline and discipline generally leads to success.
Eventually, you'll notice your routine is having a positive effect. You'll begin to clear a mental "writing space" to prepare yourself for the creative work necessary for good writing.
The idea behind the routine is to make writing a daily habit. Though there'll be times when you struggle to write, your practice will train your creative energies to kick in at the right time every day.
However, routine and discipline won't necessarily make you a great writer. Remember: there's simply no secret formula to writing well.
Evolving your writing craft will require a commitment to your work. Commitment, routine, and discipline are essential to your words' quality.
Don't be afraid of first drafts that disappoint
Many people think that good writing springs fully formed from the writer's imagination. If you've ever written even a college paper, you'll know this isn't true: nobody writes an elegant first draft.
All engaging stories result from a series of increasingly compelling versions, beginning with the roughest formulation of your ideas – sometimes referred to as "the messy first draft."
Even the most seasoned writer can find it challenging to accept how inadequate their writing is at this first draft stage. It's essential, though, that all writers not only accept the shitty first draft as merely a point of departure but also embrace this stage of the process.
The barely ordinary first draft is the perfect opportunity for you to let your imagination wander and play with ideas.
Don't overthink your writing at this stage – just write. Overthinking can be counterproductive, blocking your creativity and frustrating you to the point that you may even give up.
Instead, enjoy it! The first draft is where you can get dirty, rolling in your mud, freed by knowing that you can clean up the mess later. No one can judge you by your first draft, so use it to dump everything you have onto the page.
Once you've produced that first draft, you can begin to edit:
- The process of developing your piece.
- Refining its focus.
- Improving the clarity of your writing.
Consider the second draft as the "up" draft because you're fixing it UP. Think of the third draft as the "dental" draft because it involves poking and prodding at the writing in the same way that a dentist examines your mouth, checking the condition of every tooth.
Please get to know your characters well; your story's plot and dialogue flow through them
Every good story has memorable characters, and every aspiring writer wants to know how to create them. So how do you create unforgettable characters?
To create great characters, you have to get to know them. Once you understand them, your job as a writer is to bring them to life.
Every character, like every natural person, owns an emotional acre. Think of it as a space where everything that makes up your personality – wants, hates, needs, and loves – grows or develops.
In your story, it's vital to get a sense of each character's emotional acre. Ask yourself: What is my character growing on that acre? What is blooming, what is dying? What's the condition of the earth?
Next, take a more detailed look: What are your characters doing? What happens to them?
You can't be too protective of your characters. You have to let bad things happen to them. If they live an ideal existence and behave flawlessly, your story will be mundane and flat – like everyday life.
Finally, you have to find the voice of your characters. One way to do this is to model a character's personality on someone you know in real life, as personality reveals your character's "true voice." It's essential because – as readers – we want to believe that fictional characters are telling us the truth.
Consider how your characters would talk to each other in various settings – like on a train or at the mall. Come up with challenging situations for them, and imagine how they react.
Remember that dialogue can reveal more about a character than a lengthy description. Carefully consider what characters say and how they say it – their diction, pace, and speaking style.
Finally, to create good dialogue, read it aloud to check how realistic it sounds and pay attention to how real people talk. Listen closely – are they using their words correctly? What distinguishes the way they speak?
Pay attention to details to create the atmosphere of your story
When you're engrossed in a story, you know how important details are to storytelling. Because details make a story more tangible and believable, a writer uses details to bring a reader "inside" the story.
One important detail is your story's setting. A thoughtful environment can bring your story to life, making the world of your characters more three-dimensional. You can tailor any setting to fit your story and characters as a writer.
A forest setting where a crime is committed will more likely be depicted using more sinister, darker details than a sunny, verdant forest where a happy family has an afternoon picnic.
Those ordinary first drafts, potentially memorable characters, and enticingly vivid details can help your writing improve. So what happens when you hit an obstacle with your writing process?
When you experience writer's block, back off, take a breath so you can find your confidence
It happens to every writer: suddenly, you have no idea what to write. In other words, you're experiencing writer's block.
The feeling of being creatively empty can be debilitating, much like shame and frustration. Fortunately, though, there are things you can do to get through this.
The first step is accepting that you're blocked. Just admit to yourself that you're just not in a creative mood at the moment.
Yet also make sure you stick to your established routine and write at least a single page each day – no matter how difficult the task of constructing sentences may feel.
Ultimately, what will get you through the block is your confidence – that is, the knowledge that soon, you will be able to write again. In this way, belief is like a supporting pole that keeps you upright.
But what happens when you lose your confidence and your inspiration?
You can regain your confidence by listening to your intuition and trusting yourself. Stay calm and still your mind, be conscious of your breathing – and listen to your instinct. By not panicking, you'll stay connected and will eventually get yourself back on track.
Writer's block can stop a story from ever being completed. Sometimes, however, you'll find yourself blocked – struggling because the paragraph, chapter, or story you're writing feels disconnected.
So, how can you know for sure whether you should struggle through or allow yourself to let go? Only your intuition can guide you.
Look at your weaknesses with humor and generosity, and then write about them
We all tend to deny our feelings. For writers, especially, failing to embrace our feelings can result in a significant loss since the value of what we feel is in what we learn from those feelings.
Whatever your feelings – whether jealousy, misery, or fear – don't shy away from them. Instead, turn your writer's eye toward them and try to describe the beauty hidden within. Fully experiencing your feelings and capturing them in words will help you grow as a writer and person.
Of course, confronting your feelings can be difficult. Things like love, pain, and loss can be challenging to spend endless time analyzing.
But in the end, when you face your emotions, you'll feel more potent, and, eventually, you'll rediscover your sense of humor. Crying and laughing are two sides of the same coin, and with time, what seemed the end of the world might end up being one of the more poignant moments in your life.
As a writer, you can use all these emotions to explore specific characteristics in yourself and other people – and then give them to your story's characters.
Being a good writer is more important than being published
Why is it that so many writers are obsessed with being published?
The most important thing to remember about publishing is that if you're not a good writer before being published, you won't be a good writer afterward either. Being published doesn't make you a good writer.
However, getting published means you've achieved something that every writer covets.
In the end, what matters most is the journey you travel while writing – both the process of putting words on a page and the personal and emotional transformation you experience while practicing your craft.
Think of getting published then as a special treat. Your real reward for all that hard work is getting to live a writer's life – achieving some small goal every day and caring deeply about your work.
Working to become an engaging writer means learning to be a keen observer, a great listener, reflecting on everything that happens in your life, and seeking to express the truth. It also requires discipline, best nurtured by establishing and committing to a daily routine. Once you're in the writing flow, don't be afraid to produce "shitty first drafts," every writer begins a project the same way.
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