On Writing

Before I begin, I would like to state that this will not be a piece about how to improve your writing craft. That is for the future. This is simply about the act of writing. The act of putting your pen to paper or as most people today, fingers to keyboard or phone. Not much information will be “new” but it will be relevant and dare I say, a useful reminder. During my last year of school, Shannon Flynn, a producer/writer mainly known for her work with Disney, gave a lecture on the industry. She presented an idea I would never forgetin any creative field, 80% of the people that begin the craft will fail, or even worse, quit. How could this possibly be true? The answer lies in any liberal arts class. Some would say that you are looking at a room full of future filmmakers, cultural icons, and artists; others say you won’t remember who any of them are in thirty years time. I know this first hand because I’ve seen it with a majority of my peers. In only a few years, they’ve given up. Where to Start – Consistency This brings to question, why? Well, would someone who claims to be truly dedicated to their craft spend so much time letting life, whatever that is, get in the way? No, they integrate their passions into their life because they couldn’t be satisfied otherwise. Consistently writing thoughts and stories to tangible form is a great feat. Many people seem to think they are cut out for it, as with most arts, only to find out they were misled later on. If you believe you are called to write, test yourself daily. If you are a writer or claim to be, then we should be writing daily, no excuses. As manageable as that sounds, most young ”writers” fail. Let’s make sure we don’t fall into this trap. Writing daily has its own secret benefits. By stimulating your brain and constantly being found in the work, the work improves on its own. Shocking, right? Well, not really, psychologists like Robert B. Cialdini called this the Rule of Consistency. Cialdini and his team found that the more you do something, the less thought it takes to do and the more the skill grows. In other words, it becomes easier! This is a fact of life for anything really. What a sweet reward for all the hard work you put in. Even if it is just 100 words, the act of writing itself is the best way to improve your writing. When you make your work a habit, you automatically begin building a foundation of professionalism in the craft. Professionalism is a friend to consistency. An artist’s job is to do, not talk about doing. This is what separates the amateurs and pros. This may be a no-brainer, however, when we put the 80% into context, being professional is really difficult for some people. This is a magical trait that can be found in very few writers (and workers), look for it and hold on tight. Writer’s block “But I have writer’s block,” some may say. “I don’t know what to write,” is a constant one I hear. It doesn’t necessarily matter. If you are a writer then you can begin by simply writing your own life down. Perhaps tell a short story with a beginning, middle and end, not worrying about how bad it is or how long, just write. Write down your opinions on a matter and why you think that way. Consider the flowers outside and write down what they make you think about. Creating projects for yourself will give you inspiration for the bigger projects to come and help fight writer’s block. Be found in your work so you are ready when opportunities arise. Again, you may already have heard this, I’m not claiming to know it all because I fail at writing on a daily basis also. I would just like to encourage my fellow writers, however, to put your pens where your mouth is and challenge yourself to write at the very least, 100 words a day. Challenge yourself to something you haven’t done that brings your thoughts into words and your art. I invite you to learn with me on this weekly journey as I write about writing, storytelling, and literature. Hopefully teaching a few things along the way.