What It Takes To Be A Writer

There is truth in this.

There is truth in this.

Stephen King is a friend but not in the Facebook way of friendship but that is ok with me because I am not someone who is willing to limit myself to conventional definitions of relationships which is probably tied into why some people wonder if I am in touch with reality.

But as I always tell the Shmata Queen I know things and not all of these are limited to having an imagination that never quits working or a fire in the belly that never stops burning.

You see when that woman asks me to explain myself I ask her if she has read my blogs because that is usually where you’ll find answers to most questions and it is where I hang out because as my friend Stephen says you can’t become a good writer without doing a lot of writing and reading.

I put on my headphones, turn on the music and turn inwards and think about the things that make me happiest and the things that are most painful.

The search for scars doesn’t take very long at all.

That used to bother me. I didn’t like admitting how easily I could find the scrapes, bumps and bruises and that sometimes they stll hurt.

Sometimes I wondered if it meant there was something wrong with me. Sometimes I wondered if it was proof that I held on to stuff longer than I should and then I came across Stephen’s advice and I realized I had discovered untapped riches.

What It Takes To Be A Writer

That quote made me realize I could look at those scars as being capped oil wells that were waiting to be drilled. All I had to do was start digging and I could mine the gold.

So I started poking around and I found fodder for stories like Plenty of Time, An Uncertain Certainty and many of the other tales you can find here.

It turned heartache and heartbreak into something that had more meaning to me because I started looking at my experiences and thinking about why people liked some of those stories so very much.

Sometimes it was because they were clever but more often than not it was because people could relate to what they read. They remembered falling in love and they remembered falling out.

Didn’t always matter whether they broke up with someone or were broken up with, they remembered and if we painted just enough of a picture they filled in the rest of that empty canvas.

Sometimes I went through old letters and read them so that I could get a fresh look at what it had been like.

That is where I found notes where I remembered what it felt like to hear “you are the love of my life” or “this isn’t working anymore, good luck to you.”

It is where I came across notes from grandparents who told me about how proud they were of my accomplishments, offered advice and or congratulated me.

Those letters were fodder that fueled my imagination and gave me ideas about how to turn them into fragments of fiction. It is where TheJackB began to become more than just a blog where I recounted a few stories about what my kids do or did.

And now I find myself in a place where I am working on trying to add more layers and depth to the stories I write. When you build a tapestry you want people to see many things and you want characters that are complex because people are complex.

Write Daily

A while back I read several posts from bloggers who said they thought writing daily was a problem and that it had a negative impact on their blogs.

Some readers have complained about how frequently I update but I have found no better way to become a better writer than through the practice and discipline of writing daily.

Does it have an impact on quality?

Maybe but that doesn’t necessarily translate as being negative. It can always be positive too.

I be very curious to sit down with my pal Stephen and talk about some of these things with him too. I know from reading his book On Writing and from various other things that my thoughts aren’t so far off from his in some of these areas, but I would still like to drill things down deeper.

There are formulas and rules you can apply that will help writers become more successful. There are steps you can take to build your blog faster but the path I am trying to walk isn’t built upon formulas and concrete walkways that others have created.

What I want to do is incorporate those things and then erect my own scaffolding so that I can build the platform that works best for me.

And now if you will excuse me I am off to pick at some of those aforementioned scars.

 

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12 Comments

  1. Pingback: My Favorite Things On The Internet: 6/22

  2. Adrienne June 20, 2014 at 8:12 am

    Hey Jack,

    As someone who considers myself now as a blogger and I don’t really like the title of writer, I admire you that you’re able to write so much and it’s all great stuff. I mean you are very passionate about writing in general so you have so much inside you to share.

    I think for me, although I enjoy blogging and helping people, I just like to share with people that there is a misconception that you “have” to post every single day in order to get traffic. I know that to be a bold face lie because of my own experience but that doesn’t mean that writing every single day is a bad thing. I think it depends on the person and what they want to achieve. It just takes me so much longer to write one post and get it all loaded up. Then you have the promotion of that post so these things take time and I would wear myself out if I had to do that every single day. If I were here for the pure enjoyment of it then that might be a different story. Either way I think everyone should do what’s best for them and go with their gut.

    Always enjoy what you share Jack, you’re just a very gifted writer my friend. 😉

    ~Adrienne

    • Jack June 20, 2014 at 5:23 pm

      Hi Adrienne,

      Thank you, I appreciate the kind words. You have done a very fine job yourself at communicating ideas and using your skills to engage and create a community.

      Not everyone can do that and those who can deserve credit as being great communicators. It takes more than just being able to weave some words together to make that happen.

  3. Mark June 19, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Hi Jack!

    This is my very first visit! I saw your blog title while congratulating my coach Adrienne Smith.

    And as I was reading both your reflective blog post and some of the comments. In one of your responses, you said blogging takes time to get your sea legs. Oh how true!

    But sense it’s obvious you have so much passion and much to share! You’ve got a blog and willing ears! So please do continue to share!

    • Jack June 19, 2014 at 3:21 pm

      Hi Mark,

      Welcome to the blog. I am glad you came to visit. I have been at this game for ten years and during my time I have started several different blogs.

      Each one of them has been different so I have had the opportunity to try various approaches but the one the thing that is always consistent is developing those sea legs.

      Figuring out what voice you are going to use and how you intend to work in the field always requires some trial and error.

      To me that is part of what makes it so interesting. Add my various interests and the way blogging allows us to explore them and well, here we are.

      Hope to see you again soon.

    • Adrienne June 20, 2014 at 8:13 am

      Hey Mark,

      Glad you stopped by Jack’s blog. Pretty awesome stuff right! 🙂

      ~Adrienne

  4. Dan Poore June 15, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    It’s amazing that, not only do you post so much, but each post has depth and nuance. When I started blogging, I had to work hard to get to 300 words and struggled to get one post up per week. Now, I feel like I’m doing well by posting twice a week and averaging around 600 words per post. Thanks for reminding me that I need to keep working, keep reading and most importantly, keep writing.

    • Jack June 15, 2014 at 11:23 pm

      Blogging is a marathon and it takes some time to develop your sea legs–running and sailing go together right. 😉 Anyhoo, if you keep banging away at the keyboard you eventually find your voice and writing becomes easier.

      The more you do it, the better you get and the faster the words flow from the old fingertips or so I like to think.

  5. Larry June 15, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    Sensitivity, understanding.
    I read On Writing by King – one of the very few writing books I read. One thing that stuck to me is to always be reading and by that he emphasized always have something handy to read – you never know when a couple minutes will come available.

    • Jack June 15, 2014 at 11:04 pm

      My phone has a Kindle app on it so if I get stuck anywhere I usually have something I want to read. But even without the Kindle app I usually find something. Reading is just as important as writing or at least it is for me.

  6. Sebastian Aiden Daniels June 15, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    I read Stephen King’s On Writing over a year and a half ago. It is a fantastic read. I think it is important to write every day. Once you get in the habit of doing it then it becomes easier to just sit down and write rather than some people who have to force themselves to write.

    I like that you post every day. I have a list of blogs I follow that I check once or twice every day to see if they posted. You are one of the only people who do and I love it!

    • Jack June 15, 2014 at 11:02 pm

      It is one of my favorite books about writing. I was shocked at just how much I enjoyed it and how clearly it resonated with me. It is chock full of good advice.

      I appreciate your consistency in reading. I don’t post as often as I used to, but I try be consistent.

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