Writing: the art not the science.


How do you write? What do you write? Where do you begin? Most important of all, why do you write?

The How? The when? The where? The Why?

Let me begin with the philosophical question first. Why does a sane person write what a few years later they might see as drivel or gems? Much of what we write is, honestly, drivel, not holy text to preserve for all time. It may not seem like drivel Grade X to the hot-headed author while his blood boils in the relentless microwave of creativity. He is an author, driven by unceasing passion, sleepless and hungry. Once the blood of your heart is published and it never decorates a bookshelf or the hoped-for reader panting to devour the last word in genius, once this happens, doubts arise but never baffle the creative heart. The author goes to work again without waiting for the next inspiration to break upon the beach of his mind.

I have seen plenty of solutions to this soul-rending situation. Define your target audience. Find out what sort of fiction they enjoy. Glance, if you are prudent, at the sales figures for your genre.

But when the lightning bolt of creativity unhinges your mind and places you before your book or computer, target audience will be the last thing on your mind. You write “Call me Ishmael”, “My mother died today”, or longer ones like “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad,”. Do you think the mind of the creator would be populated by his projected audience or the amazing character who has driven him into this frenzy of creation?

If you are a Scrooge type, you would have the audience in mind and the agent who will rouse or murder your creation. Because folks, man does not live on words alone. You need money, at least enough to buy your laptop and pen drive and, well, food too.That is where the traditional publishers catch you by your most sensitive organ.

Where do you write. Advice-givers say keep a space apart free from distraction, where you can practice all the POMODORO you want. I would say this is not important. I have written 60K words my Word on an iPhone. And stored it in the cloud. Because for such a small device as the iPhone, all you need is a pocket to keep it. And Internet. In case you are going to a place with no internet you can still write on offline document managers. Google Docs, the NWriter- the tools abound like the prairie grass when there was grass on the prairies. I import the stuff into Scrivener later. Where there is a will, there’s a place. – to think, dream and to translate your dreams onto paper or computer.

As to the when, my answer is whenever the urge ascends into your soul and churns it up like batter. When that happens, you will not find peace enough to rest or do anything else (so the iPhone). Write. Then write more. How many words? Don’t count. That is the least important part of your birth pangs. I would not allow word count to distract me. The idea in your mind is perhaps best expressed as a short story or a novella. So be it. Don’t pull out a short story into a novel on a rack. The characters, situations and phrases will emerge on their own if there is a theme in your mind. Let the seed of an idea take root and sprout by itself. All it needs is your soul as fertilizer.

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