Copy Writing is a different story, but both must begin with a promise to fill readers’ needs: new gadgets, clothes, information, ideas, or laughs and sweet tears. Poets must be much more subtle than copy writers by using specific scenes or metaphors to engage readers.
I have a T-shirt that says, “Metaphors be With You.”
To show one how to do such a private and personal task as writing to arouse emotions is basically impossible. What works for me may seem silly or stupid to you, but here are my best practices for writing friction. Poetry comes in on my next blog.
It took me a few years to realize that my best writing comes from my unconscious mind. It involves a little physical exercise first, then writing fast–throwing up on paper, as Ray Bradbury said. (BY HAND ONLY) Then I rip up most of it. I keep the gems for any possible project. After I glean the best from my unconscious writing I begin typing and the words flow like those of movie stars, and a conscious plan for the whole novel takes shape.
Before the overwhelming presence of my 1983 Apple IIe computer, my budget for white-out broke me. I’m dyslectic on a typewriter–spell SAID as SIAD every time. Now I can simply delete. At the time, I asked, “What hath God Wrought.?” Now I can print enough copies of each chapter for members of my critique group to read and note their suggestions the night before our meeting.
Much as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a critique group to raise a writer to full potential. Other writers see your blind spots just as you slowly learn theirs. It helps its members learn that what they write can be criticized, but their writing is not THEM, only one part, and it can grow beautiful faster than they can. I used to be a member of a novel writing group in Orange County, now one in San Luis Obispo County, plus a group called “Poets on the Edge.”
Critique groups are not only significant, they’re a whole lot of fun. Other writers can see your blind spots in plot or repetitious use of simple words, and you can help them by printing out their mistakes. After you choose your favorite genre and learn its rules, go for it, whether or not it’s a marketable choice. I tried to write a story in the Romance genre, but I laughed so hard I had to give up. I couldn’t choose warfare, incarceration, mystery or science fiction either because I have never felt strength imagining these situations. I needed to write what I knew, what my body knew from experience. I use my imagination for creating interesting characters with deep, solvable problems. It’s easy to do that by daily eavesdropping among small crowds waiting for public transportation. Relaxed crowds provide a range of regional dialogue, cultural patterns, prejudices and family gossip. Grist for your mill.
Since I used to live near a two-mile long canal bank in Huntington Beach, California, I didn’t have to go to a gym. Because I taught high school, I had my summers off to write. Every morning on weekends, then every day in July, I would use that canal bank as the best way to start my day. I’d run fifty fast paces to get the oxygen to my brain then walk fifty paces planning the scenes for the day. Several switched paces later I’d go home, quickly handwrite the first draft and then wash dishes and cook, usually in that order, as the scenes settle in my mind. This was when my daughters were teenagers and didn’t care if I “knew” them anymore. I keep encouraging ways to let the unconscious mind tell me my truths directly, without drugs but with a large, watered down, glass of wine and speed writing. In my blog on writing poetry I describe the use of hypnosis for the first draft of anything. Whenever I’m in a class or with a group of friends who want to start writing about their challenges, I take them on a guided fantasy, a hypnotic journey, and leave them to write about what happened next. When I stop talking in the middle of this fantasy, I tell them to write what happens next. They soar. At the end of the session volunteers read theirs aloud. Many express amazement that they wrote so well. Now you are feeling v e r r y sl e e py. You’ve landed on the roof of the house or houses you grew up in. What do you hear and see? START WRITING.