Though I’m obviously not a fraction of a percent as qualified as Stephen King to publish something that resembles my personal rules on writing, I do enough of it to have gathered a fair amount of observations and thoughts on it as a craft, that could in turn potentially help somebody, somewhere — write better. That’s all I intend for this to be, a brief collection of thoughts and observations on writing and any lessons I deem valuable, in my little but not completely insignificant amount of time doing so consistently and seriously. My hope is that it helps another writer improve, if only even a small percent.
You must first establish what kind of writer you are and unfortunately sometimes that can only be done by figuring out what kind of writer you are not — which is to utilize the trial and error method. Experiment, figure out your work’s strengths as well as it’s weaknesses. What components of it do you seem to excel at and which do you tend to struggle with? Developing your own unique style and voice comes over time. It’s not something you have to consciously establish or work on. It happens organically, through simply being as genuine and as authentically yourself as possible. Don’t try to force what isn’t meant to be. Stephen King may be a brilliant story teller, however that doesn’t mean he would have made an award winning journalist. He let his inner passion guide him in the right direction, as far as genre went. When he found his, he never let up and instead pursued it relentlessly. He tried his hand at non fiction five different times, one of those works being his aforementioned On Writing: A Memoir On The Craft. While the book is one I believe anyone who is serious about writing in any real sense should read, it’s not what got him to where he is today — but his masterful ability to craft a fictional horror story that catapulted him to success. While he has experimented with other genres a handful of times thus far throughout his four and a half decade career — as most creatives would — he always stuck to his staple of fictional horror, science fiction tales and darker short stories.
My biggest obstacle personally as a writer, is the much written about phenomenon which author Stephen Pressfield refers to as “The Resistance”, in his book The War of Art — another I highly recommend to anyone who wants to write. The resistance is simply a fancy yet precisely accurate name Pressfield gives to one’s unwillingness to just sit down and write or create. Every even semi serious writer has felt it at some point or another, if not on a daily basis. I say it’s my biggest obstacle as a writer, knowing it’s really the biggest impediment to writers everywhere and always has been, throughout the history of time. As natural as writing can come to me at times, it’s never a task that miraculously completes itself and never will be. It’s one that requires at least my minimum participation of sitting down to write, if I aim to get words on a blank page that day and one that requires my utmost cooperation and concentration if I intend on actually producing anything of value. Most days, it’s not the writing itself I find difficult but the willingness to just sit down and do it that stands in the way. Thankfully, it’s a discipline I’ve finally gotten myself in the regular — almost daily — routine and habit of doing.
While I’m big on humility and will be the first to acknowledge how much room for improvement there is in my writing, I also believe I have a gift. One I sometimes take for granted and have always had a tendency to overlook, probably in part because it has always come pretty naturally to me. The other day, a close friend of mine conveyed how he wishes he could put his thoughts into words and on paper how I can. While I of course acknowledged it as a compliment it also made me aware of how in a way, I write because I believe I have a duty to. To not, would be a slap in the face to whatever universal force or power greater than myself that bestowed me with the blessing of being able to write in a way that seems to resonate with others. That is the gift, the ability itself. My job is to not waste it but instead cultivate it and care for it, simply through using it. To do anything less would be doing myself a great disservice. It would be negligence on my part.
I also truly believe I have an obligation to all of the people — however few or many — who have shown me an overwhelming amount of support in my short time writing here regularly, who look forward to reading new work of mine when they open the app or log on each day. They’ve invested their highly sought after time and technically even their hard earned money into my writing. The least I can do is continue to show them a return on their investment. It’s the only way I can genuinely show my gratitude for both readers of my work and for writing as a craft itself.
I have so much more to write as well as so much more to learn as I continue to do so. This is not a hobby for me anymore and it was never a phase. It’s a professional obsession and almost universal calling. It’s an obligation I’m required but happy to carry out. One I never want to stop progressing and improving at. I hope one thing I’ve learned, observed and tried my best to express through practicing this wonderful craft helps another. Because the truth is I have so much more to learn about writing and very little to teach. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t try and help another student along the way, which was my only intention in writing this.