Friday, December 14, 2018

How to Write, the Easy Way!

Writing stuff isn't hard.  Just crank out the paragraphs!

I get a lot of inquiries from folks asking how I can crank out crank articles like clockwork, sometimes two or three a day.   To them, writing stuff is "hard" and they don't see how I can do it.  Some even accuse me of using ghost writers - like I can afford to do that for what is presently a non-monetized blog (and the $2500 I made monetizing it for a year wouldn't pay for much ghost writing).

But really, writing isn't hard to do, and I learned this both in typing class and in a technical writing class.   Being able to type and type quickly and accurately is the first part of the problem.  If you can type nearly as fast as you can think, you can create a narrative in your head and put it on paper almost as quickly as you can talk.  In fact, it is faster, as "voice recognition" - which I have used when I only have my phone available - requires a lot of correction, which is painful to do.

Take a typing class.  Maybe keyboarding is dead, but I doubt you can write much on a cell phone with your thumbs.  Maybe I am wrong about this and old-fashioned.  But there is a demand for writers out there, and if you want to be one, you have to be able to type and type quickly.   Like 100 wpm quickly - or approaching that, anyway.

The second thing is to understand the basic mechanics of writing.  Most writing courses start off by having you study "the great authors" or some such nonsense.  They also pound into your head, certain grammar rules that can never, ever be violated.   And if you start a sentence with "and" you'll end up with red marks all over your paper.   But what the teachers fail to mention to you, is that they teach writing because for the most part, they are failed writers.  And if you read the "great authors" you'll see they flout every single writing rule out there.   But the rules are there for a reason - like speed limits.  Follow them when you can, and try to avoid the bad habits I have.

But the real deal in writing is in the mechanics of it.  Snap out paragraphs with three or four sentences hitting on a main idea, and then hit "return" twice, to put a space between lines.  Learn how to use white space and separate different or even similar ideas with spaces between paragraphs.  Only idiots and academics (I am being redundant here) write paragraphs with seventeen sentences in them - twelve being run-on sentences.   It just hides your main idea and makes your ideas harder to parse - which is often by design, as people often don't have a lot to say, so they cloak it all in 15-dollar words in run-on sentences and call it "intellectual."

But what to say?  Well, that is not really much of a problem, if you think about it.  Most of us (I hope anyway) have an inner narrative that is constantly storytelling our daily lives.  Just write that.  The best writing is to write what you know rather than things you are merely conjecturing about.  If you want to write about whaling, it helps to spend some time on a whaling ship - as Melville did (or hung out with enough whalers, anyway) rather than try to invent the narrative from whole cloth.  People can easily detect what is inauthentic.

Most of us have something to say - that is not the problem.  The problem most folks have - as I see it, anyway - is in expressing their ideas.  They either feel that "writing" has to be ornate and gilded and technical, or not worth doing at all.  As a result, they feel inhibited from even trying to express themselves.  Maybe this is why texting and twittering and YouTubing is so popular these days, and few people chose to write.  I dunno.

But crank out those three-sentence paragraphs and see what comes of it.  Maybe it won't be War and Peace but it may be something.   And if nothing else, you may get some visceral satisfaction from it.

Good Luck!