Random Writing Tip #3: Suck

You could make as much sense as this sign. Or be this creepy and wrong. The choice is yours! (Picture by Auntie P)

You could make as much sense as this sign. Or be this creepy and wrong. The choice is yours!
(Picture by Auntie P)

Writers have many stumbling blocks when it comes to putting words down on paper, including desire for quality and perfection, and fear of sucking. Here’s one tip to help you get past that.

You’re going to write crap. The sooner you accept this, the better.

Harsh? Maybe. But let’s be honest: everyone writes crap. Every writer needs to be edited before their words reach the outside world (and anyone who tells you different is lying or deluded).

But the thing to remember is: it’s okay to write crap. In fact, it’s better to write crap than to write nothing at all, because crap can be edited and made into something good. As I’ve seen attributed to several different writers: “I can edit a bad page, but I can’t edit a blank one.”

Letting the fear of sucking stop you from writing isn’t helpful or productive. Writers write, and if what you write sucks, you’re still a writer. Later, you can be an editor, and that’s when the gold starts to appear.

So let it happen. Let yourself suck. Can’t find the perfect place to start? Or that one ideal word that will break the seal on your virgin paper and spill forth brilliance? That’s because it’s busy folicking with the unicorns and fairies.

Pick any word. Pick a stupid one. Grab the first thing that pops into your head and put it down. Know you’re going to delete it? No problem, but follow it up with some other words first.

Experiment. If you’re not sure what that beautifully honed start looks like, try writing six different ones. Try writing everything that comes after that start, and then come back and decide which one works best. Some of them will be terrible. That’s fine. You’ve learned. You’ve moved on. And you’ll have the chance to whittle whatever’s left into the shape you really want it to be.

Don’t let perfection hold you back, because it doesn’t exist. Real life is dirty, flawed, and can always be improved upon, and writing is no different. Make a mess. Get drunk, do something ridiculous, do something inadvisable, vomit all over the floor, and then squint at it through the haze of your hangover*. Regret it? All of it? Are you sure?

Writers are special people who are perfectly capable of polishing a turd into a diamond. But first, you have to have the turd.

Go ahead. Suck hard. It’ll be worth it in the end when you’ve got words on the page that you can make into a story. When you show the world your diamond, none of them will guess that it started life as a stumbling, gross thing; all they’ll see is the diamond.

(*This is intended as a metaphor, but feel free to indulge in any way you please.) 

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Random Writing Tip #2: Bleed

The writer's instrument. (Picture by AMagill)

The writer’s instrument. Play it hard.
(Picture by AMagill)

I’m currently watching the Angel TV series again. In it, there’s a character called Lorne, who can read the destinies of people when they sing, because people open themselves up when they make music.

Writers sing every time they make words; they open themselves up and make everyone who looks their way into a heart-reading Lorne*. They lay themselves bare and invite insight, scrutiny, and empathy.

Writers are damn brave people.

So be brave.

Show your readers exactly how your characters feel; to do that, you have to draw on the emotions from inside you. You have to reach inside to find authenticity and show the world what you’ve got.

Take your heart in your hand and slice it all over the page. Bleed.

You don’t have to shock people. You don’t have to show them your eviscerated self, entrails gleaming in the spotlight. But you can, if that’s what you have to say. And if that’s what you have to say, you should.

The smallest drop of blood can be enough. But it has to be real blood. You can’t use corn syrup and hope the audience doesn’t notice, because they will. Real blood is thick and sticky, and stains.

Don’t hedge. Don’t dilute the flow or soften the blows. Don’t hold back: pour yourself into your work. Make it raw and strong, whether it’s pain or passion, love or loss, rage or R-rated.

Take chances. Write the things you want to in your most secret of hearts, no matter what anyone might think. You might slip and fall. You might cut yourself in the process. But that’s okay. You pick yourself up and learn, for next time. Because you might write something real and vibrant and beating on the page. You might truly touch someone.

Be brave. Be you. Show us what runs through your heart.

Bleed on the page for us.

(* Yes, I just called readers green-skinned, red-eyed, horned demons. But Lorne’s totally fabulous, too.)

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Random Writing Tip #1: Write

I come across a lot of advice in my internet forays. Some of it is good; some of it is pretentious twaddle. Some of it is pure gold and those bits I hug to my chest like furbabies.

I babble a lot on this blog. Big, fat posts that I try to cram full of information. That doesn’t suit everyone, and sometimes they’re hard for me to find time to put together. So I’m going to try something a little bit different: random writing tips. Maybe I’ll even pick a regular day to get them posted. Who knows, maybe I’ll even find a schedule and stick with it.

To kick us off, here’s my #1 tip for writers: WRITE.

Grab one of these. Go crazy. Or, if you like, type.  (Picture by KaCey97007)

Grab one of these. Go crazy. Or, if you like, type.
(Picture by KaCey97007)

What does it mean? It means that if you want to write, then go write. If you call yourself a writer, then go write. If you have a story to tell, then go write.

No excuses. Not even to yourself.

Got a busy life? Tough. You can find the time; thousands of writers everywhere manage it, and so can you. It’s possible to make time, so do it.

Don’t know where to start? It doesn’t matter; start anyway, start anywhere. You can always come back and perfect the beginning later (and it’s often better done that way!).

Don’t know if you can do it? You’ll never know unless you try. Have a go. Stop prevaricating.

Need to do research? So do it. Research enough to get started, and then start writing.

Blocked on your current project? Write something different. Grab a random prompt and put pen to paper. Make fresh words.

Computer broken? Pens and paper are cheap. Use anything to hand: post-its, napkins, bathroom walls (I will deny encouraging grafitti).

Write a story, write a poem. Write that letter you’ve always wanted to write but never dared. Write about the lessons you’ve learned. Gather up those thoughts that niggle at the back of your brain and spill them onto paper. You can do it.

It doesn’t matter if it’s crap. It doesn’t matter if you throw it away at the end of the day. Just write.

You will surprise yourself. You will develop habits and find yourself craving the sweet release of words. You will create something.

Then, you will be a writer.

Brought to you courtesy of today’s wordvomit.

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