Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Scribe in All of Us

Nine books and counting...

Believe it or not, writing is one of the easiest things a person can learn to do. Unfortunately, too often beginning writers only focus on the end result and then are intimidated at the thought of completing a novel, an essay, a blog, or even a short story.

Next Saturday, March 18th, will be a great opportunity for anyone contemplating or just curious about the writing life to come explore their many writing options.

The Steeple Center | Rosemount, MN

The FirstAnnual Rosemount Writers Festival and Book Fair is being held Saturday, March 18th at the Steeple Center in Rosemount, Minnesota. The hours are from 9:30am to 5:00.

Their web site lists all the speakers and events planned for the day. I’ll have a table for selling my books and I’ll be speaking at 2:00 that afternoon. The title of my presentation is: ‘How do I begin?’

For the uninitiated, there are a plethora of books, magazines, seminars, and websites which all claim to have the magic elixir to becoming an accomplished writer. Some will tell you that you can write an entire book in just one month. Others will say that (for enough money) you can get someone else to do all the heavy lifting for you. Experts can do your editing, book design, marketing and promotion. All you have to do is write them a check.

This smorgasbord of advice can be a distraction and excuse for not writing. Their focus is on the procedures here and not the actual ‘doing.’ I believe all of these approaches are wrong simply because they fail to address the most important equation here which is you…the writer.

I would summarize those skills needed to become a writer as discipline, being able to focus and allocating your time wisely. Remember writing is a craft, a skill and a discipline. Like anything else worth pursuing, it takes time and effort. THERE IS NO SHORTCUT. As the old Chinese proverb goes, a long journey begins with one small step.

The first step to begin is deciding what type of writing you want to engage in. The caveat to follow here should be: what is your passion, what drives you, what topic would make you want to get up each morning and write. Remember, you are not writing for anyone else but yourself.

The second step is deciding on your subject matter. Where do you go to get ideas if you have no idea what to write about? The list is unending. Newspaper and magazine articles, conversations, people you know, your past experiences, other’s experiences, and things you have witnessed, etc.

My own experience with ‘Love in the A Shau’ began as a loose compilation of information about the sixties and my own experiences in college and the military back then. After fifty-five pages of notes my storyline was ready for writing.

Writers must have multiple personalities because they take on the personalities of their characters. So make it a point to listen to dialogue around you. How do people talk, what do they say and how do they say it. Readers love a good story and interesting characters. It’s your job to provide both.

All your ideas won’t mean a thing unless you can organize them. Begin by just spilling ideas, phrases, dialogue, facts, etc. onto paper. Some folks use post-it-notes, notepads, or just compose on the computer screen. Whatever works best for you is the right way to go. Once you have enough information then begin to organize your notes with a beginning, middle and end. I just dump ideas, words, phrases and dialogue onto a computer screen. Then it goes to paper and finally I begin to edit my material before dumping it back into the computer.  


Once you have a treatment or an outline you are ready to begin writing your story, article, etc. Begin by filling in what you have already written. Then add whatever else seems appropriate and/or relevant. Once that’s done, let it cool off. Walk away from your writing project for a period of time then go back to it. ALL writing takes place in rewriting, not during the initial first pass.

You need three things to become a writer:
            Talent…you won’t know if you have it unless you give it a try.
            Desire…you won’t know if you have it unless you give it a try.
            Perseverance…you won’t know if you have it unless you give it a try.

My one hour presentation starts at 2:00pm at the Steeple Center. There will be a lot of great speakers and books for sale. Check out their websites here at http://www.rosemountarts.com/ or http://www.rosemountwritersfestival.com/

I hope to see you there.

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