Work. How to Make Words.

I’m a big proponent of the idea of sitting down and just writing. You do it enough, and eventually you’ll train the words to come.

Sometimes you won’t know what’s going to happen next. This is a big issue for some people (it’s the part I like best about writing). It’s also, generally speaking, the difference between people who plot, and people who don’t. So if you struggle to figure out what’s going to happen next, sit down. Write out your plan.

Then after that’s done, train yourself to sit down and write everyday. You know what’s happening. How it happens? That’s another issue, but you fix that by using three things:

  • Experience
  • Creativity
  • Copying

Experience is straightforward – you’ve heard arguments before. Maybe you’ve had a loved one die. Maybe you’re smelt blood before.

So you dip into your bank of a brain, and you get on with it.

Note, age has nothing to do with this. Experience often comes with age, but it’s not tied to it. I’ve lived in four countries, and spent two years running around in an ambulance in a city of 9 million people. I’ve had more experience in some areas than people twice my age.

I’ve never been truly in romantic love, nor had a child. So those things aren’t something I could ever talk about with authority. But I’ve watched people die. I know what someone in true pain looks like, I know what it is to be helpless. I know what devastation and grief looks like. I’ve had children stop breathing in my presence.

So. That’s experience. Where does creativity come into it?

I’ve never truly been in love – not a long term relationship, anyway. A few very short ones, but long term isn’t really my style at this point in my life.

I’ve known my best friend for 10 years though. And while I can’t say that the three months when we were in university where we had a falling out is exactly like a break-up? I must say, it’s not difficult to extrapolate from that experience to what it might feel like.

Like you’ve been jumping into a safety net that is comfort and home all in one and suddenly it’s gone.

So. That leads us to the last one. Copying.

“You want me to plagiarise?” I hear you saying. Nope. But I want you to go out and steal other people’s experiences for your own.

Take note of that word. Steal. It’s the correct word to be using. Because you’ll never be able to truly represent experiences that aren’t yours. You can have a fairly good go. But you are stealing how it feels, the way it impacts a life, from someone else. Keep that in mind. Be respectful. Perhaps make sure you know what you’re on about enough that the stealing feels less like stealing, and more like borrowing.

For some things, no-one will care. Nobody is going to care if I read about how it feels to have a child, and then write about it, taking in all those second hand experiences and feeding it through the filter of my creativity. People will also, generally not care if I write from the POV of a guy, even though I’m a woman.

They will care if you start writing about groups that you’re not from and doing it badly though. Because there is an impact there for hurt. The male white community is not going to be injured if I get them “wrong”. They’ll probably just go on ignoring me.

If you’re writing about someone when the world already gets most things about them and their people wrong? Try not to add to it.

Image from Flickr, by Kristina D. C. Hopper

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