There are a multitude of books available on the subject ‘How to write’ and a plethora of courses available, all promising to show you the secrets, give you an outline, throw you a rope when you are drowning in words. Many of these are well written, well thought out and helpful, but sometimes they seem to subtly miss the mark for us. We have a head full of theories, plans, guidelines and confusion.
You see, courses and books can give you a very clear idea about how other people write and have written, but what no teacher will admit off the bat is that they have no idea how you are going to do it. Writing is a journey, one we all take in a different direction. Before we set out we need to fill our backpack with three things
1) Words – dictionary, thesaurus, experience of reading a great deal
2) Grammar – an understanding of how the words fit together.
3) Punctuation – knowledge about how we signpost meaning.
These are the essentials. We all need these. Without these we are trekking the Himalayas in our swimwear.
Next we need the useful items:
Map of the terrain – an idea of the structure of a novel, short story, article, essay
Travel guide – a description of journeys by past explorers. How did other writers write?
And finally we need the things that make life more enjoyable:
Chocolate – or your treat of choice
Bug Spray – for the Fear bug, which swarms on a scale from nervous tension – sheer terror. If you have no spray then hit them with a slipper, newspaper, pop song.
All packed? Good. Now you are ready to explore. Some of us will be an Amundsen, Columbus or Magellan and some of us will be Dora, and that’s fine. The journey is our own. We make it ourselves and each discovery is as exciting regardless of who we are. Be yourself and forge your own path and before long you will have a page in the Travel guide.
Watch out for the Self-editing Tar-pits and