Tuesday, October 30, 2007

So, You Want to Be a Writer

Over the years I am frequently asked questions about being a writer.  What’s it like being a writer?  How do you do it? How can I get into it? Can you make a living at it?
677452_red_pencils_14 Here goes.  Remember, these comments are my personal approach to being a writer.  There is no rule book to follow; this is just the way I do it.
1)    Did you like reading and research and writing papers in school and college?  If you did, then you have a leg up for being a writer.  You need to do a lot of reading, traveling, and research on your subject whether you are going to write a novel or non-fiction.  Surround yourself with books, pictures, anything that relates to your subject whether it be a boat model, a picture of the Himalayan mountains you trekked in, your favorite wine, a tanka from Nepal, or a plate of sand from some beach you like. Live your subject.  I don’t listen to music while writing, but you might want to find out about the music of the region, time period, style(s). Try the food, if it’s from an exotic place.  Search newspapers, Google, Amazon for articles, books, etc.  Most of all, enjoy it.
Writing2)    Fasten on an idea or concept like a leech.  Make it yours; become your subject. Try it out; taste it.  Throw it away; pick it up again.  Is it for you?  Do you really want to spend a part of your life living with this? Don’t talk too much about it to other people; but do listen to people who know something about your subject.
a)    Now choose a title for your book, and then b) write a two (2-3) sentence Gist of what the book is about. You can practice this by taking a favorite book like Hemingway’s FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS and reducing it to  a 2-3 sentence gist. Remember that the Gist is NOT the story; it’s what the story is about.  It’s good practice; try several books.
Write down as many titles as you want. You can always change it. Try it on your tongue. Swirl it around like a fine vintage in a good glass.  Print it out in bold and put it in the middle of the page. Do you like it? 
529092_notes_on_wood_4 4)    Now it’s time to throw the dart.  That is if you have done all of the above (of course you can skip all of the above; it’s up to you and you alone.) MAKE AN OUTLINE. A CHAPTER BY CHAPTER OUTLINE. The description of the chapter can be as little as four or five lines or as large as you want it to be.  This process can and should take a long time—months, many months.  This is the blueprint, the DNA, the navigation chart, the heart of the matter.  Change it . Re-do it. Throw it away.  Embrace it. Deep six the whole g-damned project.  Go sell insurance.  Writing is for the birds!!!!!  Join the circus. Do anything but be a writer.
Enough for now.  This is part one of a three (3) part entry.  I hope you hate it!!!!!

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