Being a ‘Great’ Writer

I do not call myself a writer. I believe that, in order to call myself a writer, I must at least be climbing steeply towards my peak. My “peak” would be profound literacy and solid comprehension skills, a strong ability to string powerful words together to create understanding through description and narration. I’m convinced I may have at least the artistic skills to be a writer, but I need to learn and practice more to enhance and perfect my capabilities.

This post (and its title) is in response to an article titled, ’22 Lessons From Stephen King On How To Be A Great Writer’ written by Maggie Zhang.

The first tip – ditch the TV, it poisons creativity. “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot..” A good thing to remember when all I want to do is watch a cheeky bit of Netflix, especially when all my shows are coming back next month. At least before school starts in two weeks, I hope to get in a solid bit of reading and some writing practiced. I do secretly write a lot during the semester, so that won’t be much of a problem!

Don’t waste time trying to please other people, write primarily for yourselfDisapproved, angered, ignorant… These are the types of people who don’t understand what it means to write for yourself, about something you believe or are at least interested in. Writing should not be tailored for someone, it should be exactly your words – exactly how you see the world you want to imagine – it should bring you joy.

The best practice is from writing things that are hard to say – what is a topic you find hard to talk about, something you maybe don’t understand or taboo. Those are the best to write – King says, “Writing is refined thinking.” For example, I might write about Taoism – something that fascinates me, but I couldn’t begin writing about it. He says you must search for the story a bit like research – “Writers should be like archaeologists, excavating for as much of the story as they can find.”

Disconnect from the world. Such a simple concept that is dismissed by today’s culture with all the technology and constant need to be in touch with someone or something. Just let go, let your mind wander, let the pen get lost in thought. My favorite quote: “Write with the door closed; rewrite with the door open.” Let it be what it wants to be, itself, in private and let it be redefined for others when the door opens.

Don’t be pretentious! – Don’t use jargon such as long words that are unnecessary to the story/piece. Avoid adverbs and long paragraphs – “the road to hell is paved with adverbs,” King notes. Paragraphs need to be continuous and flow into one another, but also need to be aesthetically pleasing, thus not lengthly.

A good thing to remember, is that one shouldn’t get caught up in grammar. King sums it up perfectly in this quote, “Language does not always have to wear a tie and lace-up shoes. The object of fiction (for example) isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story.”

Despite what your teachers said, description is not about writing enough, but about limiting yourself. This is my biggest problem because I can ramble on and on, in fear that the reader won’t understand what I’m talking about. Which correlates to the next tip: Don’t give too much background information! Don’t write jibber-jabber about the intense details of the lady’s hat, I can imagine a fedora if it doesn’t affect the story plot.

Stephen King tells us to finish the first draft in 3 Months, and then take a hiatus for six weeks when you’re finished. The break is so that when you come back, you can reread your story with a new set of eyes and edit the whole story instead of nitpicking small bits at a time. Don’t be afraid to cut! Edit whatever needs to be altered or taken out – if it doesn’t illuminate your subject, cut it out.

The last hint that I appreciated was titled: Realize that you don’t need drugs to be a good writer. “The idea that the creative endeavor and mind-altering substances are entwined is one of the great pop-intellectual myths of our time,” says King. It is a great point, and I’ve not only heard people say to me that they are more creative when intoxicated to some degree, but I am also one of those people who have admitted that I might be, too. Although, in reality, I don’t think I believe that – I’m pretty sure I am just about as creative as one needs to be!

My takeaway is this: You can write about anything. Anything in the world, or not in the world, so long as you write for yourself and have fun doing it. You must write in your own style, avoid unnecessary language jargon (adverbs being one of them), and get rid of distractions when you do. It is all up to you and nothing but yourself is in your way.

Here is the article that I found via StumbleUpon: BusinessInsider


Thanks for reading!

-R

 

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