Lesson #1: Introduction to the Craft of Writing
Well, this is it. The adventure begins. Some of you have signed up to follow posts from The Write Nook at the beginning of our journey; some of you will follow along later, as we move forward. In either case, welcome to the adventure! If you’re reading this post, you have most likely chosen to study the writing craft. Whether you’re a new writer, a seasoned writer, a multi-published author, or just someone curious about the writing world, we welcome you to our humble e-bode (we’re writers; we’re entitled to make up words every now and then.)
To start off with, we’d like to point out that posts from The Write Nook will usually begin with Lesson #__. This is so that, if you would like to start from the very beginning (a very good place to start), it will be easy to read the posts from The Write Nook in chronological order. Though, we’d like to point out, this is not necessary.
Each post from The Write Nook will have tags (to help you search) that you can use to identify content. Do you want to look for all of the posts about Deep POV? Simply go to the handy-dandy search bar on the side of this site, and it will pull up the posts we have for you on that subject.
We’d like to point out our fantabulous “sign up” box that pops up when you first click on the site (it is also found on the right-hand side bar.) If you’d like to receive posts from The Write Nook in your email inbox, simply sign up and we’ll send you an email every time a new post is uploaded.
We’d like all of our members and followers to get the most out of their TWN journey. So we have a very nifty Facebook page and Facebook Community for those of you on Facebook. You can like our Facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/thewritenook and join the Facebook Community here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/769637333168173/ . Please note that this community is an open group for anyone to join, but we do approve our members first. The community is based on love, with encouragement, enlightenment and inspiration as our primary goals, so we do our best to keep it a positive, helpful community for all of our members.
So! With all of that said: Let’s get started!
The Writing Craft
There’s a lot to be said about the writing craft, so this next year (2016) we’ll be focusing primarily on the basics of the craft of writing. We’ll cover topics such as plot, description, Deep POV, Show Vs. Tell, NaNoWriMo and other writing challenges, self-editing, character development, etc. As the years move along, we will delve deeper into these topics and other important aspects of writing, as well as the nitty-gritty details of publication, trends, genre specifics, etc. So grab your cup of coffee/tea (or whatever you prefer – we in the Woodhouse household prefer Dr. Pepper), a pad of paper (very important), and some writing tools (highlighters, pens, pencils – whatever you think you’ll need.) Or, if you’d like to just sit back and soak up the information, keep on reading. We don’t judge! Though, we will say, in order to get the most from your writing journey, you’ll need to get into the habit of writing notes.
So! For the start of our TWN journey, we’ll begin by discussing three extremely important steps for any writer (new or experienced):
Step Number One
The first step of writing is to… come up with ideas! If you’re reading this, chances are you’re already having ideas… I’d be willing to bet that 99% of the people on earth do. No matter what genre you write, how many words are in your manuscript, how much you know about the writing craft, or any other facet of writing, the first thing to do as a writer is come up with ideas. And not just a few; a lot. A whole lot. You never know what might work its way into a novel/poem/play later on… your job as a creative person is to have ideas. And then? WRITE THEM DOWN. We cannot emphasize this enough. Many grand ideas have been lost because the thinker did not write it down. Don’t lose your best ideas by ignoring the call of Pen-to-paper (a great friend of ours who calls out to us every day, but is – sadly – often ignored)! Don’t judge your ideas; and never, EVER throw them out the window. It doesn’t matter how far-fetched the idea seems (is there a gnome trying to steal cookies from the oven? Do you wonder what would happen if pigs could fly? Is there a way someone could be killed with an MRI machine?) ALWAYS write your ideas down.
We could sum this step up by two simple principles: have ideas (pretty easy, since the majority of us already do) and write them down.
Step Number Two
Know when to listen to your Inner Editor. The IE is a faithful, helpful inner voice… but like any permanent resident, he/she can get annoying when speaking to you 24/7/365. Like all things, there is a time to listen to your Inner Editor and there are times when you need to tell him/her to shut up. (And there also may be times when you can only “slightly” listen…) Whatever the case, we’ve got a pretty good idea of what to do in the writing process: when you’re writing your first draft (and we do mean FIRST draft) don’t listen to that Inner Editor at all. Shove him/her in the closet and don’t let ‘em out until the fat lady sings! (That is, when you’ve finished your first draft.) Let the creative juices flow; if you experience a twist in your plot, go with it. If your character does something unexpected, go with it. Don’t worry about sentence structure, paragraph length, Show Vs. Tell, or any other major facets of writing. Finish that first draft (of your scene, at the very least)! Then, you can go back and edit. Now, is it wrong to edit a scene you’ve already written, even if your whole manuscript isn’t done? This is where you can let your IE out just a little bit… but only for a short while. You’ll need to get your whole manuscript out on paper (plot, character arcs, beginning, middles, ends and all) before you let the IE be fully unleashed. A good principle to use: never let your IE out the first time writing a scene/chapter. Just write it. Then, allow about 30 minutes worth of editing per 5-10 pages. After that, it gets shoved back in the closet with its mouth taped shut until you move forward.
To sum up the second step: know when to let out your IE, and when to imprison it in a place you can’t hear it screaming for perfection.
Step Number Three
Just write. This step may be the most important of the three… because it is often the one disobeyed the most. Though it’s not wrong to take breaks from your writing, you need to be realistic and not give up on your writing. Yes, you heard that correctly. When you feel writer’s block settling in, or your schedule explodes with endless lists of things to do, or emergencies and catastrophes take over your life, KEEP WRITING. It doesn’t have to be a lot. It can be a page, ten sentences, or ten words. But keep writing. The best ways to do this are to make a daily goal and keep a creative writing journal/notebook. For your notebook/journal, splurge. Find a new notebook/journal you LOVE. It doesn’t have to be expensive; just find one that makes you smile, you think is cute, excites you to write in, or makes you feel creatively professional. And make a daily writing goal. Though a lot of writers make a goal of 1,000-3,000 words a day, every writer will have their own lives and amount of time to dedicate to writing. You can choose however many words you want to make into your goal – 50, 500, or 5,000. The possibilities are endless. You know your capabilities. But I would challenge everyone here not to go any less than 10 words. At the very minimum, everyone should write down 10 words – whether it’s an idea or a sentence or a jumbled mess of names/places/pieces parts of a dream – specifically for your creative writing. I think you’ll most often find that, with this goal, you will usually go above and beyond your goal, becoming an overachiever (now, doesn’t that sound nice?) There’s a wonderful journal called the Journal 10+ (http://www.journal10.com/), made so you can write a short entry of what happened every day. It has a small space for every day (with pages in the back for spill-over) for ten years worth of writing. I’d HIGHLY, highly recommend this journal to any and all writers. You may find that it’s not big enough; and that’s great! (In that case, the journal is nice just to have as a daily, personal journal to look back on for memories.)
The point here is that you should be writing every day. Even if it’s only an abstract idea or a small, seemingly insignificant thought, you should be writing every day. Some days you will write more than others; and that’s fine! Just be sure you don’t let those creative voices inside of you suffer from underexposure to the light of day. If you want to come up with stories, then write. If you are called to write, then WRITE. “If you wish to be a writer, then write.” – Epictetus
That sums up Lesson #1: The Craft of Writing. We look forward to seeing you for our next post!
For those of you in the Colorado area: be sure to check out the Colorado Christian Writer’s Conference held in Estes Park on May 11-14th, 2016! Kimberley and I will be teaching there for both the teens and adults. Check out the details here: http://colorado.writehisanswer.com/
For everyone, we highly suggest you look up different writer’s groups, conferences, and ministries near you. It can be a great way to encourage, inspire, and enlighten one another!
With pen to paper,
Kayla R. Woodhouse