Putting Pen to Paper

Posted by   Luke   |   Categories :   Education


There is no real trick to becoming a writer. There are only two things required: that you are not afraid of hearing the word “no,” and you have to write all the time. Even if you don’t think you have anything to say. You need to write whether you want to or not, regardless of whether you are getting paid or only writing to get something out of your head that no one else will ever see. It is a commitment, it is a struggle, and the potential for success is very small. Yet, here we all are, reading books on how to self-publish and telling ourselves that we have something worthwhile to say.

I know there is a saying that goes, “Everything worth saying has already been said.” But I disagree. I think every person has a unique voice and no two people would capture an event in quite the same way. We all have stories to tell, stories that the rest of the world deserves to hear. It does not have to be a life-changing event or a heroic struggle. It could just be a thought you had as you watched the clouds pass by your window, someone you saw when you were walking down the street and instantly were able to create an entire backstoryfor, or something from your past that you are trying to work through. Sometimes we don’t choose the story; sometimes it chooses us. When these things happen, we owe it to ourselves and our potential audience to put pen to paper and write the words that are inside us.

Sometimes these words turn out to be short stories or novels, others would work better in verse or as a play. You won’t know until you start and let the words take shape as you go, like clay on a potter’s wheel. It doesn’t even have to be good; at least, not right away. A first draft can be a complete project or simply serve as a blueprint for the story you will later build. But it is just that—a draft. Re-read it with a critical eye and see where your strengths and weaknesses are. Did the story get away from you or was it a little too laser-focused? Are there things that you need to flesh out or something that was too long winded? Now is the time to trim the fat and tighten it up. Just as an archeologist patiently sifts through the soil and carefully chips away at the ground to uncover bones, we should shift through our words to uncover the story beneath.

Sharpen your words as if they were knives. Use them to carve out a believable world for your characters to live in.Allow your audience to forget their own hardships and wounds while they visit the place that you have created, in the hopes that when they return to their real lives, they will be forever changed.

November 7, 2016