In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
– John’s Gospel, Holy Bible
You are an author – you’ve got a way with words. You are an aspiring writer – and you want to seriously evolve and excel in this most venerated of creative practices. If you are in the very beginning of your writing tribulations – you know already that writing is not effortless. It is sometimes hard, strenuous, exhausting labor. And after all the work you have done, you will often envisage your results as average. Isn’t that frustrating? Writing is hard. But does all that mean you are a bad writer? What can be done about it?
Don’t you sometimes wonder in what aspects good authors excel the rest of humanity? We all know that stories are soulful creatures with their own opinions. What do you need to tell a really great story?
What do you need in order to be a really powerful writer?
Here’s a list of 9 things I have learned about writing in the course of 10 years of being a really successful creator.
- A Muse For Creating Characters
- Ideas For Following the Thread
- Inspiration For Holding On
- Passion For Charging The Text Emotionally
- Language To Please The Aesthetic Cravings
- Guts To Deal With Your Imagination
- Enthusiasm To Beat Procrastination
- Rules To Defy Them All
- A Gift To Develop
1. A Muse.
Muses are people in your life you get deeply involved with. They engage your imagination, impregnate your creativity, summon your inspiration. Muses become great characters for your novel…for since you cannot be indifferent to them, they make your readers fall in love as well. Living humans are also equipped with believable goals and motivations and incredible destinations. We know from Kurt Vonnegut that a character must want something the entire time – even if it’s just a cup of tea. My sister, for instance, is great at wanting stuff. She wakes up in the morning and with the first sentence declares what she wants to the household. She is the character who kicks you out of bed after she wakes up with the information that she wants coffee and pancakes, she is always on the quest to buy the most modern heels in town… a real master of earthly desires.
How to find a Muse?
Think of all the people you love, who are to you the living proof that God exists and all of us are connected in a divine way. Stunning characters can be based on your mother, your grandma, your friend, especially your flame – and you don’t have to depict them as perfection, for colorful and attractive personalities, which readers resonate deeply with come with their human flaws. The greatest love story you will ever tell will be about your romantic interest. But your stories can also be populated with the grocery lady, the shoe-maker, and the assistant at the local pet shop – all of them brilliant secondary characters.
Finally, good writers have got a trick – their characters are a mix of the personalities they encounter in real life. Yes, they mix the grocery lady with the university professor and give birth to somebody completely unique. It is really important that the reader connects with the character and empathizes with them, so write your characters believable and get recognition from your readers. Humans are humans because they are afraid, nervous, embarrassed, angry, shocked, tired and shy, sometimes happy and excited and all their tribulations make for really good fiction.
Most of the times when you suffer from writing block – you don’t really know what to write about. When you are an influential author, you usually have visions and you want to share them with everyone and enlighten the readers. In his masterpiece “Idiot,” Dostoyevsky wants to depict the finest man against a world full of foul people – the one who is Christ-like and understands everyone. The awareness of what you want to convey through your writing does not let you lose your way in the creative process. Ideas shake up your writing, your business, and your life.
Ideas make literary works so unlike each other and so great.
Where do you get an idea?
Your experience, your life is full of pretty and petty, still perfectly unique moments and great decisions in the face of impediments. Sometimes you fall, and then you rise and if you manage to describe that in imaginative prose – you are coining a message and you have got the reader’s fond attention. For all stories generally, represent human problems and their solutions.
Another source of ideas is reading. Picasso said: “Bad artists copy. Great artists steal.” He was right – even William Shakespeare borrowed his plot for Romeo and Juliet from an Italian tale. Reading breeds ideas and shapes the style more than anything else. So do not hesitate to “base” your story on some of the greatest tales ever told.
You have to be very alert. Everything around you can change your flow of thought and give you an idea.
Facts are – when you are emotionally elevated you write better romance. Also, when you are sexually elated – you write steamier scenes. Readers often cry at their favorite books, and I believe writers cry as well when they write them. Writing is a great tool to transfer your emotional life onto another human being and communicate and make a connection. Inspired writing inspires the reader as well.
But How To Find Inspiration?
“You should not wait for inspiration” – my favorite language teacher used to say – “Begin and inspiration will find you!” On the other hand – you should take advantage of your emotional times. Definitely, celebrate with writing the meaningful moments of your life. For, though the plot is essential, emotion is the best fuel for story creation. How to get emotional? It is not necessary to become a boozer like Hemingway in order to be a great writer. You might go to a Latin dance or Karaoke event. Especially beneficial for inspiration are “the matters of the heart.” But sooner or later you will discover that inspiration is something that is more subordinate to those 10 percent of discipline everyone needs for their job. So, sit down and write. You have to write. The way to achievement is getting started.
You have to be in love with your masterpiece. You have to be a dreamer, a seeker, a lover, a visionary. You have to passionately hate your villain and truly sympathize with your hero. Stir your passions, think of what really makes you tick, what titillates you – then write about it.
Where does passion come from?
Writing means an urge to express yourself which is the basic outlet of creative people. Writers are emotional, original beings. They are without exception very curious, and most often really emphatic. They approach writing more as a sacred activity, than like having fun. It makes them feel complete and happy and alive.
5. Language and Style
My language is of the fairy-tale kind and that’s because in my childhood and adolescence I read fairy-tales voraciously. These days I am mature enough to like reading Andersen and Wilde again. There is a rhythmical magic in the language of superb writers – their sentences are smooth and musical. There is something miraculous to language – it can appease the human sufferings, it can elevate a human mind to greatness. Every writer has got a different language and a unique inner world. Every new language that you learn is a different culture.
How to improve my style?
Read, read a lot. Meet the minds of the greats. Learn by heart poetry that inspires you. Study languages and work on developing your writing skills every single day. Sooner or later it will pay off.
Courage! What makes a King out of a slave?
Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave?
Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk,
in the misty mist or the dusky dusk?
Wizard Of Oz
Sometimes your imagination will take you to places where you don’t want to be – especially when you create your villain or the main conflict of your work. Your mind will misbehave very often.
Why do you have to be brave?
You have to make your characters and readers happy, but before that – you need to make them strong. Strong means that they will be able to face and defy obstacles. Their true life begins outside of their comfort zone. So without haste and deliberately the great writer takes the reader on a self-transforming journey through all things that haunt them, even terrify them. In the end, the reader has got to feel the life-changing love of the author for all that is good and wonderful.
To be a great writer means to love writing – to love it dearly and profoundly. Creative work is challenging and demanding. Sitting in front of the white sheet can be overwhelming. You have to have at all times endurance, and an earnest wish to work hard in order to improve your writing.
How does one get enthusiasm to write?
Enthusiasm can be boosted if you find adherents. Those are creative beings, who gather on a regular basis to write together and inspire and challenge each other. It’s a great way to support reluctant and struggling writers. Passion is contagious and so is the elevated state of consciousness – two imperatives of a great attitude for writing.
Rules are there to be learned, applied and transcended. For instance, supernatural stories about vampires have recently become really popular among teenagers. “Fifty Shades Of Gray” – started as a story about vampires – and then at revision, they just took the vampire topic out of the book – making it the big erotic hit of 2015. But in order to break the rules – you need to familiarize yourself with them.
Here are two rules of writing widely agreed upon:
Write what you know
Well if Tolkien wrote what he knew – we would have never heard of the Shire. He not only wrote about an imaginary world – he created a whole full-featured culture with its maps and languages, and folklore…a fantasy that captivates the readers from all backgrounds and generations.
Create believable dialogue
Samuel Beckett’s dialogue in Waiting For Godot wouldn’t have existed:
ESTRAGON: I remember the maps of the Holy Land. Colored they were. Very pretty. The Dead Sea was pale blue. The very look of it made me thirsty. That’s where we’ll go, I used to say, that’s where we’ll go for our honeymoon. We’ll swim. We’ll be happy.
VLADIMIR: You should have been a poet.
You learn the rules, to blow up their borders, and mix experience and talent to create your utterly unique masterpiece.
Talent. Yes, there is such a thing! It is true that you can hone your skills in writing to some extent, but you are born with that kind of creativity. Obviously, talent is achieved over many, many lifetimes of devoted scribbling. Being original happens to some people effortlessly. It is mostly related to being unexpected and fun.
But how can one develop in writing?
You have to pursue it like you would demand your inheritance. You read, write, read and write again, fail, fail again, fail better. It’s a vast subject but the most popular recipe is to indulge in writing every single day, irrespectively of the quality of writing. One day you will wake up and you will be successful.