Lessons in writing:
What I have learned and wished I had done more of during my four-year writing “career.”
-Make your stories personal not abstract for even the blandest story is interesting when given a human face.
-Know and develop your characters. Befriend them. Live with them inside your head. The wonderful thing about writing is that it’s the only acceptable form of schizophrenia.
-Writing involves a lot of alone time, which can lead to a lot of sadness. However most writers wrote their best work when they were going through their darkest depressions.
-Using big words doesn’t make you sound smarter; it just makes you look like you’re trying too hard. Keep your vocabulary simple, it will make you more likeable.
-It’s more important to be interested than to be interesting. Stories are literally all around you and with a small dose of observation combined with a strong interest in learning more about a subject you can fin your next piece of work even in the most mundane corners of the world.
-Write about what you know. It’s very hard to write about the difficulties of being an Asian in America if you’re European or to write complex business stories if you have no background in business. Stick to what comes naturally to you.
-Designate a specific number of words or hour of the day to write. Stop when you have reached that time or word count not when you run out of ideas. If you write until you run out of ideas that’s when writer’s block occurs. Writer’s block is a lot like being constipated. You know the shit is in there but you’re having difficulty getting it out.
-Always carry a notepad and use it to develop your ideas. While technology is a wonderful thing, when you’re writing on your computer you’re using the logical side of your brain but when you write with a pen and paper you use the creative side of the brain. This creativity will help add color to your story.
-While I don’t endorse the use of alcohol or recreational drugs, Hemingway always said that in order to write a good story one must “Write drunk and edit sober.” I don’t think being intoxicated makes you a better writer but it definitely helps you write what you would otherwise be too afraid to admit with a sober mind.
-Remember you are not there with your reader when he is reading your story. Stories are what the reader understands not what the writer tries to explain. Your readers are not inside your head with you, therefore you have to give them as much description as possible of your people places and things. Paint a picture but always leave room for them to use their imagination.
-Trim your story of everything unnecessary and then trim it some more. You only show your reader the tip of the iceberg. Your story is much more deep and complex than what they will read and your reader only needs to know about 20% of it. Plus there is always good to leave some material unused in case your story calls for a sequel. Be smart about what you decide to leave out.
-You don’t have to write your story chronologically, you can list your ideas as you come up with them and then organize them in a coherent sense. However you always have to know how your story ends so you can work on getting to that ending. That being said, don’t feel like you’re married to your ending. Sometimes a story evolves in a different direction than we originally intended it to, and that is completely fine.
-Always remember that the only way to become a better writer is by writing. You can drink black coffee and smoke packs of cigarettes while claiming that you are waiting for some divine inspiration but guess what? This inspiration will only come to you once you start doing.
-Last but not least, be patient. Good writing takes time, let it marinate for as long as it needs to in order to be perfect. Most successful writers will tell you that the writing process is divided into periods of idleness followed by periods of creative frenzy. Don’t be afraid of the silence.
There is no specific formula for writing since writing is a craft and not an exact science. The advice listed above is only habits that have worked for the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King, JK Rowling and me. As much as I would like to say that this advice is wonderful you must take it with a grain of salt, since an aspiring novelist who has yet to write a work of fiction wrote it.
by Adriana Herdán.