How to start writing is same as asking for how to drink water. You will find it later here in the post why I said so. Good writing is a part habit, a part acknowledgement of rules, and a part giving a damn about the universe. And the idea of writing varies between two kinds of people, those who think they can write but lacks writing inspiration and those who think they can't and lacks writing inspiration. Apparently, both are wrong.
I was an average student my whole life in school who loved reading out loud and writing creative slogans. I wrote my first 'diary' in mid-school. I know it wasn't 'writing'. I never thought of myself as a writer. But I wrote the first page of diary expressing myself and that too without giving a damn to the grammar. When I was drafting this post it reminded me of that mid-school diary which was all started with an idea of writing.
Why I am telling you about my not so grammatical diary writing inspirational story? Because it led me to consider myself as a writer when I was lacking the ability to write well like an art. I knew it back then that I belong to 'people who can write'.
“लिखते तो वह लोग हैं, जिनके अंदर कुछ दर्द है, अनुराग है, लगन है, विचार है। जिन्होंने धन और भोग-विलास को जीवन का लक्ष्य बना लिया, वह क्या लिखेंगे?”
I wrote another diary when I was in the final days of my university. A heartbreak, depressing relationships, and fear of throwing out from the placement was enough to motivate me to write it down. But this time it was making more sense and less crap.
It was time to bid bye to university life. I was crying loud while writing down how I am going to miss hostel, canteen, cafeteria, friends, professors, park, stationery shop, the juice bar...
I tried to make quotes too on my own life by myself (only a legendary writer do that). Binding it up, I ended writing down 100-200 pages in three days. I called in my roommate to read it for me or say to foreword it. She designated me as a writer in the next second (she ruined my life). I left my diary around the corner and headed for my professional life where I worked as an IT army.
Living 9 to 5 work and 24*7 university life has one thing in common. Pen and paper. One day when the God of the team, TL asked me if I can write a quick speech for him that he has to deliver in the next 10 minutes. I without even thinking compiled it in less than 5 minutes (the topic is anonymous). He left a coffee and a thanks note at my table after getting big claps for that motivational leadership ideology I wrote up. I was feeling proud of saving my TL's ass. Days passed, a year passed and I started getting bored with my usual routine. It led me spending more time in the lounge area than my desk, reading magazines, and manuals.
One thing was distracting here - the name of the author, editor, writer in magazines, and newspapers. I was feeling spammed by writer designation. The writer inside me and the designation of the magazine's author was challenging my IT personality. On my way back, I grab two books and one diary from the bookstore and ran to my apartment as if somebody was following me. I read the two books in one night (because it was a weekend). Eventually, on a Monday morning after 2 years & 4 months, I let go of my IT personality. I quit my usual routine of earning meals and took the first step towards how to start writing with the idea of writing.
So, how to get started writing when you are all covered with digital assets and everything in your hands with one click? Sure, you gave a thought of coy and pasting.
Defining the idea of writing
Writing comes from inner self. The idea of writing starts with the idea of discovering your self. The idea of self-introspection worked when I left my job for writing ( or for the idea of writing). I am a free-will person. I like the freedom of expression, freedom of thought, and shaping it into a good piece of writing.
To be honest with you, most of us fall somewhere near the line of capable , mediocre writers lane. All we need to do is train, practice and nourish this idea of writing, everyday. Your mind is a limitless hard drive of ideas and plots with a bad system to pen it down ( my IT and writer soul's affair). When these ideas and plots fail to express it all, it kills the idea of writing ( every writer's problem). If you want to bring life in whatever you write, you need to connect your thoughts with yourself. I am writing down how to make that happen.
Feel free to get to the bottom is the first step towards the idea of writing. You need to develop a habit of self-examination (why I want to write this, what's so appealing about it). Try to put it into paper every day, even if it's a single word.
The broadening of mind is key to unlock the idea of writing. Reading an excellent piece not only opens up a whole new world but it also enhances your vocabulary. Read everything you've untouched(fiction, non-fiction, poetry, prose, blogs, articles) to build the idea of writing.
Procrastination(the act of delaying) is common among all levels of writers. To avoid it, you can make a writing schedule. Don't procrastinate it, stick to it. Write a small chunk but write. Write it down and set achievable goals ( I will complete the introduction today).
Feel it to write it. Even if you're writing about a taste, smell, book, business, nature... feel. Feel the details. Feel from the reader's side. For instance, if you are writing about the mountain's cool breeze, jump into the reader's side and feel it. Expressing the feel is the final step towards the idea of writing.
Isn't easy? Writing is easy- put your thoughts to the paper. No. Writing is much more dynamic art in the world of content pieces everywhere. anywhere. The idea of writing can lead us to a smart or stupid draft. But not when you choose your words well, writes in harmony with idea, approach, and vision.
Write what You know. But...
The other day I was watching a video of Dan Brown in conversation with 'CBS This Morning'. When asked to share a message with the writers and aspirants, he said, " “A lot of people say 'write what you know.' It is so difficult to stay engaged for a year or two in a subject. You should write something that you need to go to and learn about. Make the writing process a learning process for you. In Inferno, I learned so much about genetic engineering, so much about Dante, that I didn’t know. Throughout the novel, research and talking to specialists kept me motivated. So for a young author who says “I don’t know what to write about,” I’d say, what have you always wanted to know about? Write it."
I was living "write what you know" life of a writer until I get hired for writing a piece as a content writer. I was going to be 'a writer'. After all, that's what I always dream of (after I left the job and lost my apartment). I was so enthusiastic about it that when I get the content guideline, I didn't find it necessary to read. I jumped to Google Doc to write in the Name and Title of the topic. I planned a full week schedule (on a chart pinned to the wall), Pre-research about it all, set the timer, asked my boyfriend to cook by himself...
It was a good week of official writing. I was doing good with everything I planned and scheduled.
It was week 2 of the same topic. The client was pretty happy with my week 1 delivery. I was happy but this time with little enthusiasm. I was taking breaks, watching YouTube ( not a Netflix person), doing other things to negotiate with myself later for not completing the write-up. Resulting in, I delivered the week 2 content in week 3, week 3 was new week 4. The habit of procrastinating begin. I failed to keep up with the topic because honestly I never thought of learning about it first or refining the draft with my own ideology into final content. All I was doing - topic - research - pick the good things - pick the bad things- conclude it- the end. I was more busy in delaying tasks day by day that I didn't noticed my word count decreased to 1500 ( I started from 2500) Why? Because, I procrastinated? or I failed the 'write what you know' life or both?
I chose to work for something I have no idea about. The topic was new, the whole feel was new. The only thing that was old - my attitude towards 'write what you know'. I was so mistaken to understand the 'write what you want to know about' side. The topic was neither of my interest nor I tried to learn about it. I wrote it because it was earning me meals. Sooner, it led me to procrastination and later to admit the fact that I cannot write what I know. I was feeling humiliated by my own sense of writing. I questioned myself, " Do I know anything? Is writing for me? ...
If you are a writer you may be following The Paris Review. Paula Fox in an interview said," if you get the central truth and the motion of people you can write what you know. Henry James in The Art of Fiction writes about a woman writer who ran up the stairs of a little French house in Paris, and on her way up she passed a room with a door open and inside there was a meeting going on of French Huguenots—this was in the nineteenth century—and they were smoking cigarettes and talking. She was only there for half a minute; she paused and then she went on. Two or three years later she wrote a book about the Huguenots, and everything in it, as Henry James said, was true. She went from that one moment. Now, I was very careful not to tell my students to only write about what you know, because I couldn’t define what they knew. That’s where the question begins. How to define what you know. And what she knew and sensed in that second was everything.”
I felt it. I know things. I don't know how to define it. This self-examination shook my writing vibes from the core ( I cried and felt worthless). Later after two days of self-bashing, I started it again. I ordered a few books online and a beautiful slip pad ( my motivational stuff). I read. I listed out what I don't know. Spammed the internet with researches. Wrote about it. It worked. I did well than before. The client's work ended after 8-9 months. I earned good (it was a work from home).
Now what? I worked as a content writer for straight 10 months. Am I a writer? What should I write about? Or I am a writer for money? Client work is done and I am back to square one with the lack of idea and will to write out on my own, my own idea of writing. I was right there to feel the second type - "people who think they can't write."
...TO BE CONTD.
We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; they travel far.
I will be back with the next post on how I started writing a blog when I almost started to live with the 'people who think they can't write' attitude. Tell me in comments if this nightmare of rise and fall of a writer ever happened to you.