A friend of mine recently asked me about how I write. He wanted to know where the stories and ideas come from, how I develop the concepts, how I construct sentences and thoughts and if there was anything that he could take for his own use.
I gave him some pat responses. Writing is something that requires repetition. It is a skill that is enhanced by practice and like any craftsman you have to work at it. I have always believed that no matter your ability at any task the way to take it to the next level is to put the work in, to get into the habit of always striving to improve.
In a practical context that means that you read and read and read the work of others and that you always work on building your vocabulary. Words are the most basic and most critical tool that a writer has access to. The next step is learning how to apply them in a fashion that makes the most effective use of the power that resides within them.
So you need to look at your arsenal, search your bag of tricks and find the words that are appropriate for the topic and for your audience. There are different styles that are applicable and they may not always intersect.
When I was younger I used to tell the story of an experience I once had at a restaurant. I was there for hours and never did eat a meal. Why? Because when the waiter came to our table he asked if we we ready to order and I said no. “We are waiting for Godot.”
It was a smartass remark that referred to a play called Waiting For Godot that many people read in high school or college. It is the kind of pretentious remark that some people make when they try to show off their education and I was guilty of it then. But the waiter didn’t have a clue what I was talking about so you could say that I had a good time at his expense which was neither nice nor kind.
But the play has always resonated with me because it delves into people waiting for someone or something to improve their lives instead of taking action themselves.
Back to the topic of the discussion. My buddy thanked me for my advice, but he wanted to get deeper, he asked for a more in-depth discussion and more details about the topics and how I can draw readers.
My response is one that I have used many times and will keep returning to. I often dislike what I have written. I find it to be repetitive and dull and not real descriptive. I think that at times I can be very good, but often touch upon mediocrity. However it is a good way for me to vent and release pent up stress so I will pump this junk out for that reason alone.
Often my best stuff, or at least the stuff that I am most pleased with are those topics that are the most painful to touch. The darker places inside that have sores, cuts and bruises that never quite heal, they are where I find my muse. When I poke around their it is often easier for me to find the more evocative words.
It is tied into why I would include a soundtrack to all of my work. There would be happy songs, sad songs, tunes to whistle too, and moments of silence. It is not unusual for me to feel like I have failed to adequately express myself.
Whatever, that is enough on this topic for now.