Writing: Why We Do It

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Words by Kerry Flint Photograph by Nuria Cabrera

The web is saturated with quotes about writing and being a writer. I don’t wish to feebly try to add to these. I write and can offer my opinion in way of possible advice with the hope that it works as a kind of encouraging fist pump to the shoulder of another writer. In my case I think writing fills the gap between me constantly talking to people. I like to chat, which means I like to communicate and writing is communicating. I don’t pretend to know how to become JK Rowling or Hunter S Thomson but as someone who writes and has been doing so for a bit now (I am getting old, yes) I can offer a bit of advice…

Don’t let the bullshit get you down
The process of having writing published and sent out into the world is becoming exceedingly more reciprocal, with the whole digital world allowing for pretty immediate feedback. This has its pros and cons. You get feedback but need to grow a thicker skin and reign in the temper. Trolls are like hives, if you itch them they’ll just get worse. Have confidence in your writing and your opinion and aim to grow as a writer.
Do stick up for yourself but remember that your talent with words is better used putting pen to paper (or tapping keys) to write about something you care about rather than get entrenched in a slagging match. It’s a viscous circle you see time and time again on the internet and often begs the question as to whether Steinbeck was right that ‘Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other’. Use your energy wisely and don’t take the bait. To develop as a writer (or anything) you have to work with the situation not against it. That doesn’t mean bend over and let the scurge of the world-wide-web tickle your belly then tie you to a pole. By this I means rise above and outsmart. You have the words and know how to use them so use them wisely and shrug off the timewasters and negativity when you can.

Write
Put time aside and do it. No you’re not that busy. You weren’t busy when you checked Facebook for the hundredth time or found yourself watching an episode of Come Dine With Me for the second time. Yes it is easier said than done, but if you put time aside to write you will feel a relief so much better than another pint or episode of Game of Thrones (seriously). You will find that it becomes less of a chore and more an enhancement. This isn’t to say that some days you find yourself squinting at a screen clutching your fourth coffee and feeling like you might suddenly switch off, like a broke laptop, at any given moment. If writing was really that easy then surely everybody would be writing the likes of Ulysses. It simply isn’t. It is a process and eventually it is worth it and definitely worth your time.

Remember that time spent not writing is valuable too
Be interested in the world. If all you do is sit home and watch paint dry then what will you write about. That. It will run dry pretty quick (sorry) and has a pretty niche market. At risk of sounding like some kind of life coach or happiness conference I will say, there’s lots to see and do out there. Your friends are friends for a reason right. You respect them, admire them, they make you laugh. The people you surround yourself with will rub off on you. Equally if you find yourself in a writing hole the size of the one Alice fell into, then get up from the desk and go for a walk. When you come back to it you will feel refreshed and, hopefully, rearing to go again. Don’t swim against the tide but rather find a route that suits you. Remember life is inspiration so live it.

Don’t try to pigeon hole yourself too soon
You don’t have to choose what you write or what type of writing you do straight away, or even at all. You are you. Don’t push it so far in one direction that it gets stale. Experiment and try different types of writing, this way your writing will develop. As Blake said, ‘The true method of knowledge is experiment’. If you start looking at verse or poetry you will find an interest in rhyme and language that will affect your more factual writing. Equally practise stripping it back in places and look at the tone of your writing. You might suddenly find yourself interested in a new genre or literary style. Go with it. To avoid risking sounding like a creative writing lecture I am going to strip it down to the wood. Practise, experiment and enjoy.

Read
Nothing will spur you on like a finely crafted line that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end or forces you to laugh out loud and get those looks on the bus. Reading will remind you why you love words and if you read you will want to write. Do it! It’s the best!

So go write and remember… enjoy it!

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