Friday, June 20, 2014

Be The Writer.

I kind of aspire to be a runner. I want to be a runner. The thing is, to be a runner, I have to run. And I do run. Sort of. Half-heartedly. Okay, quarter-heartedly. It's really not surprising that I suck at running and I don't really like to do it. But, I always feel great when I'm done and that makes me want to run some more. In fact, I ran today for the first time in awhile. It was easy at first, then my energy lagged and I wanted to stop but I pushed through, and fell into a rhythm. A slow one but rhythm all the same. 

Writing is the same way. If you want to be a writer, you have to be a writer. Just pick up a pen and put a word down on paper. Then another word, then another and before you know it, you'll have written something. It might be substantial. It might not be. It might be total crap, and that's okay.  Being a writer is the easy part. Being a good writer? That's harder. Producing writing that you're proud of is hard, too but like running, it gets easier and better with time. This, I promise you. 

Part of being a writer is being a reader.  It goes hand in hand. When you read, you pick up on different styles of writing, you absorb the rules of grammar, you get a sense of what makes a story well-written. For this same reason, I read running blogs and magazines. I'm inspired by other runners, I learn different tips for running.  Okay, I'm done with this extended metaphor....promise. 

Here's a tip I learned a long time ago: when you come across something in your reading that you really like, copy it word for word into a notebook. Use it as inspiration. Use it to train your writing muscles. The last thing I copied was Thoughts by Walt Whitman. It takes up two back-to-back pages in my journal. I was forced to focus on a word at a time, and to think about how each word was connected to the next and the one before it. It's a great exercise and I highly recommend it, especially during bouts of writer's block. 

Another tip: read poetry. Like no other genre of writing, poetry really gets at the heart of words and what they can do. The best poetry is stripped bare, simple yet evocative. Williams Carlos William's The Red Wheelbarrow is a classic example; so much imagery in just a few words.
so much depends 

a red wheel 

glazed with rain 

beside the white 

But really, just be the writer.  

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