Sunday, October 28, 2007

Writing Naked

While cruising for interesting sites over at digg, I ran across this site about tips for writing. I was already familiar with several of the tips but I picked up some new ones. I had not heard about writing headlines. Headlines!

With my seemedly inexhaustible need to comment, I left my two cents on writing. I made the comment that writing is like playing a musical instrument or running marathons. I've talked to many people who wanted to be writers and they were just waiting for time or inspiration to begin writing. This is wishful dreaming and not the practical approach to writing it deserves if you are serious.

It's like someone saying they want to be a musician but they're not going to practice on whatever instrument they have some capability to use. They are going to wait until they get a gig. What kind of show would that be? No one would pay for that.

Or, some guy wants to be a marathon runner, but they are not going to go out and run everyday on some 10K or even a 5K regularly. They are going to wait until the day of the marathon to start running. How far would they get in that marathon? Not very far, and they wouldn't even deserve a t-shirt.

And yet, many people approach writing the same way. They think that just because they can talk they can write. Stream of consciousness writing only seems that way. It's lots of work even if you write everyday. It's edited, reworked, re-edited, and crafted so that eventually it appears to flow like someone's thoughts. There is a lot of effort in making something appear effortless.

I have posted earlier about the benefit of writing a blog if you have to write for a living. It's amazing how easy it is to write if you write regularly. The words just seem to flow. I'm not struggling over sentence structure, grammar, or syntax in trying to express a thought.

The other tip I left on the writing tips site is to just start writing with out any purpose or goal in mind. Just let you thought spill onto the page – sort of that first draft of the stream of consciousness writing I mentioned above. Although it's an interesting exercise, it has never lead to any short story for me, but hey, maybe one day it will.

And then there’s the story about a guy who is always being approached by young would-be writers to review something they have written in the hopes that he will tell them they have what it takes. They give him a manuscript or something they have written.

He reads the material, comments on the quality of writing, tells them of the tips I have mentioned before and were listed at the site linked above, especially the one about writers write. Musicians play for the joy of it even if there is no performance in their future. Runners run because of how it makes them feel and keeps them in shape, and writers write whether they are going to be published or not.

Then at the climax, he asked them to expose a most intimate part of their anatomy. If it’s a female, he asked to see her breast. If it’s a male, he asked to see his penis. Of course they are shocked, embarrassed, and extracting themselves from their reviewer with as much haste as they can muster. (However, a few are not shocked and begin to disrobe. Invariably these people eventually go into advertising – but that’s another story.)

And then when they are so shocked and want to leave his present immediately, he offers them their manuscript and says that when they feel as exposed in offering their manuscript as they just did at the suggestion of exposing themselves, then maybe they will have something worth reading.

They were more embarrassed in exposing some intimate part of there anatomy than their writing. When it’s the other way around, they may have written something somebody would want to read. Imagine you are more exposed in your writings than if you stood up naked in front of people totally nude and they could comment on every thing they see. Your words expose you more than being naked.

In other words, write naked or write as if what you are writing is your most naked self – or something like that. Just a thought, try it and see. You can always keep it under wraps.
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