Notes to Self
- I want to write something really different but I’m afraid to.
- I have a great story in my head but I’m afraid of offending somebody.
- Nobody will like my book, I just know it.
- What if I get sued?
- What if …
- What if …
- What if …
Excerpt from Really Stupid Writing Mistakes: How to Avoid Them
Hunch over when You Write
Don’t let anyone look over your shoulder when you’re writing. I’m speaking figuratively, of course, and sometimes we don’t realize that we have somebody there telling us: “Oh my gawd! You can’t say THAT!” Yes you can. You can say anything you want. As long as it’s true.
You can have a character say and believe that “water flows uphill”, but as a writer, you can’t say that, because it isn’t true. You can have a character say and believe that “all black people can dance”, but as a writer, you can’t say that, because it isn’t true. You can have a character say that “prepubescent children enjoy sex with adults”, but as a writer, you can’t say that, because it isn’t true.
Always tell the truth. Whether They want to hear it or not.
It’s Not about You
Don’t think of writing as a selfish act, think of it as selfish not to do it. No matter how ridiculous your viewpoint or idea might seem to perhaps thousands of people — even millions! — at least one Earthling will get it and be glad you had the guts to say it. (Besides, if a million readers think your idea sucks, that’s a million people who’ve read what you said. There’s no such thing as bad press.)
Don’t Talk Your Story to Death
Any time you talk your story to someone, you diminish it. You might even lose it entirely. Try not to fall into the pit of “and then my character is going to do this and then my other character is going to do that. Isn’t that cool? And then . . .” You have to shut your mouth and keep it shut until it comes out of your fingers on your next work shift when you’re in your world. It’s easy to get excited about new ideas, but remember those primitive amygdalae who share your brain with you and how bored they might get hearing the same story twice . . .
It Must Be Important
Something — and I hope even atheist writers will agree — is driving you to write, so it must be important. What if nobody had ever bothered to write the instructions on how to land a plane? There are plenty of books on how to get it up there to fly it, but what if only you knew how to get an airplane back onto solid ground? Selfish. Selfish.
Ah, such responsibilities have we who look out from Life’s disco ball onto the Earth. When a bee returns to the hive with news of distant pollen, it dances instructions for its fellow bees: “Hang a left at the Murphy farm, then go up over that stupid pine tree the Wilsons stuck in the middle of their yard — why they did that I will never know! Then hang another left at the cucumber patch. They’re not ready yet, probably a couple more days. You’ll be able to pick up a wind current there and just ahead is the most fabulous clover . . .” Communication!
Primitive man did much the same when he (yes, he) returned from hunting expeditions. The wife and kids had been stuck at home gathering, so were anxious to hear about the exploits of the hunters — something different. Exciting events had taken place at home, too. Stories were exchanged. Stories!
The need and the desire to communicate are in our DNA, in our collective spirit. But they won’t do any good unless we can get them out of here and into there where they can be seen, heard, and experienced by others.
Next Post — I’m Ready for my Close-up, Mr DeMille
Sherrill Wark is the author of Really Stupid Writing Mistakes: How to Avoid Them: http://www.amazon.com/Really-Stupid-Writing-Mistakes-Avoid/dp/1479308226
… and Death in l’Acadie: a Kesk8a story (fiction): http://www.amazon.com/Death-lAcadie-Kesk8a-Sherrill-Wark/dp/1511501154/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8