Writing about writing has always been tough for me. I enjoy writing, but trying to teach someone how to write well is a bit like trying to teach someone how to make money blogging–there’s no real blueprint for it, and what works for me will probably not work for the next guy.
I realized this about a week into working on this post. That’s when I deleted everything I’d written up until that point because I realized the entire thing was about me. It was about the methods I use to make magic happen, the things I think about to get the words to come. I realized I’d written a laundry list of tips that have worked for me, and that this was absolutely unfair to any writer trying to find methods that work for them. What’s fair is the truth, and the truth is that good writing is based on certain foundations, not on tips or step-by-step processes.
It was Darren Rowse, a highly successful blogger, who helped me realize this. In his webinar “Monetizing Blogs”, he suggests that ‘teaching’ people how to monetize their blogs is not a one-size-fits-all process that works for everyone. It’s the foundations of your blog that allow it to be profitable. The foundations required to make money blogging, Rowse says, are promotion, building a community, and establishing a useful content base.
If that’s the case, then the foundations required for good writing, in my opinion, are patience, movement, and introspection.
Patience. You can’t rush the right words, they come when they’re good and ready. So wait for them. Wait for them like you wait in line for coffee. The good is coming. In fact, the good is already there, you just have to get to it. This is where I learn to take the advice of George Lois, a man who’s been coined the original ‘mad man’ in the advertising industry. He once said that some of the best ideas aren’t invented, they’re discovered, implying that they already exist, they’re just waiting for you to find them. In that same vein, Einstein once said “It’s not that I’m so smart. It’s that I stay with problems longer.” Be patient. Stay with your writing longer.
Movement. I use the word movement as a foundation here because you’ve got to move if you’re going to go anywhere. Staring at the blank screen feeling like a failure only begets more failure. Move. Even if it’s all crap, for God’s sake move. 500 or even 5,000 words of complete crap means you’ve moved forward, you’ve gotten somewhere, and I promise you, moving is the best way to kill time while you’re utilizing that first foundation–patience. You can still wait patiently for the good stuff by moving forward with a bunch of bad. It warms up your imagination, and before you know it, plot lines, ideas and inspiration starts churning together like magnificent clockwork.
Introspection. No one will be interested in what you have to write about if it doesn’t interest you, plain and simple. How do you get your writing to interest people? Good old fashion introspection. What makes you cry? What makes you laugh? Who broke your heart and what did they do with it afterward? Channel some of these experiences into your work. Write about what you’ve experienced first hand, or what you wish you did. Better still, force your problems onto a character for awhile. You’ll feel so much better afterwards, and your audience will feel it too. Writing is cathartic, and I never believed that more than when I attended the last reading Bret Easton Ellis ever gave a couple of years ago at Skylight Books. When asked if he was going to write any more books he simply said “Probably not. Because I’ve healed.”
These are just a few foundations that I feel build great work. In my opinion, there’s no ‘best way’ to write if you’re writing from the heart and you love it. Don’t let all the advice out there overwhelm you, but do take note when things inspire you.
BIO: Monique Muro is a highly caffeinated writer and blogger from Los Angeles. She is currently developing a website designed to help people find direction, working on her first poetry collection, and blogging about the entire journey. She occasionally reviews books for Examiner.com. You can find her on Twitter at @moniquemuro, and follow her adventures at http://anovelquest.com.