Most people think writing is like falling off a bike; it’s easy and everybody can do it. Frankly? They’re right. It’s easy (if you know how to type or use a pencil) and everyone can do it (assuming basic reading/writing skills).
Of course, writing doesn’t necessarily mean good writing. Being able to write competently is like being able to fall off a bike without hurting yourself. Being able to write exceptionally well is like being able to fall off a bike so flawlessly you get hired as a stuntman for the movies. (And frankly, you’ve got a better chance at being hired as a stuntman than being a bestselling writer. Just saying.)
So, what does being a bicycle-riding stuntman have to do with being a writer? After all, bicycle talent doesn’t have a lot in common with literary acuity, while authorship doesn’t usually involve broken bones and dare-devil status.
What they DO have in common is one very important thing; practice. Or more specifically, the courage to keep practicing.
This is the first in a new series of articles “The Writing Safari”, about practicing writing and building the courage to keep practicing, no matter what. So, pull on your pith helmet and load your gun for dictionary-size words and dive in! Just keep a careful eye on the tall grass; you never know what sort of snarling grammar rules might be stalking us in the literary darkness.
Writing Safari #1
Pretend, for the moment, that you’re following a dapper gent like this into the wild, uncharted territory of the imagination. Most people charge blindly into this wilderness, with the idea of hunting down their story and displaying proudly on their trophy shelf, but without any real idea of what they’re getting into. This is where your safari guide comes in. He’s hunted many a wily novel, tracked even the toughest of epics across the trackless jungles of the mind’s eye, and come back alive almost every time.
You’d best listen to him, especially before setting out. He knows that being prepared is the best way to ensure you survive your expedition. Here’s his list of items you should have before setting out.
- Basic Plot
(a beginning, middle, and end are required, even
if the details are very fuzzy and subject to change)
- A Character
(Never start a story without a character in mind.
Characters set the pace and tone for the story.)
- A Setting
(Even if it’s a globe-spanning adventure, there
needs something that ties the story-world to the plot.)
(Unless you have a eidetic memory, keep
something handy for jotting down details.)
- Printer Access
(Do NOT try writing a book without it. Our brains
are hardwired to miss mistakes on a computer screen.)
The Guide’s Recommendations
(good to have, like a tent in a rainstorm)
- Alpha Reader
(Someone to read as you write,
just help keep you on track)
- Sticky Notes
(Sticky notes are the universe’s gift to writers.)
- Multiple Colored Pens or
Microsoft Change Tracking
(You need ’em. Trust me.)
- A New Book
(Nothing gets old faster than writing your own book.
Keep a new novel on hand to refresh your imagination.)
All the Comforts of Home
(you want it, even if you don’t need it)
(SOMETHING to distract you, reward
you, and comfort you, every step of the way)
- Workout Regimen
(Physical activity really helps creativity. And
it counteracts the sedentary habits writers develop…)
- Someone To Brag To
(Getting to brag about milestones is good for the ego)
(not mandatory, but nice to have)
You’ve got the list written down? Head over to the supply depot and load up, then check back next week for the next stage of the Writing Safari.