Saturday, November 12, 2016

Why did I ever think I could do this?

One of the most frustrating things that I as a writer can do is, think about why I started to write in the first place. If you think about it for a moment, it is easy to sluff off as - a case of the blahs! The reality though will stop a writer in their tracks. This could have proven to be fatal for me as it pertains to the motivation to continue writing.

I have been there many times. The way I have been able to overcome the urge to call it quits is, keep writing. I know it has been said, by a lot of people in a lot of different articles and posts. And truthfully this is probably not any different than those. But, I feel if you keep reading you may just find a ray of hope that your writing career is not over, it is just about to take off to a more meaningful and productive direction.

I am going to propose three simple steps  to handle this question. Each step will build on the previous one - stepping stones so-to-speak. When I want to write an article, post, book, just a simple story - this is how I do it. So, without further delay, that may cause you to stop reading and chuck it all in, here we go!

Step one.

Generally, all I have to write today is one sentence. That's right, just one sentence today will start me in the right direction. I  have used the saying, "The journey of a thousand miles, begins with but one single step." Lau Tzu, the Chinese Philosopher, wrote those words that have become part of what are known as, "Ancient Chinese Proverbs."  In that statement is the key to almost all endeavors in life. That's it! Begin, Start, there is nothing more to do. When I first saw this, I almost laughed and said, "That is too easy!" For my 50 plus years in life, I missed this. I can't go back and change what I did or when I did it, I have to just begin my journey. This not only pertains to writing, but it is a good philosophy for life.

Beginning is what I did with this post. I sat down with an idea I had to help writers, including myself, with what I know is the way I feel sometimes about this craft I  have been called to do. Once I began, I was unstuck and motivated to continue with more passion and drive.

Step two.

Fortunately, there are writers who inspire me to work hard at this thing I have chosen to do. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who many will recognize as the author of the Sherlock Holmes, series of mysteries, was in my opinion, the quintessential master of the "Who done it!"  Almost all of his stories start with a benign opening scene. In the opening of "The Hounds of the Baskervilles," the first paragraph draws you in.

"Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who was usually very late in the mornings, save upon those, not infrequent occasions when he was up all night, was seated at the breakfast table. I stood upon the hearth-rug and picked up the stick which our visitor had left behind him the night before. It was a fine, thick piece of wood, bulbous-headed, of the sort which is known as a 'Penang lawyer'. Just under the head was a broad silver band nearly an inch across." 
Do you see what he did there?  He set the stage with a description of  who was there and what they were doing. Not only that but he gave us details of one particular object in the room.  The first time I read this story, I didn't understand the significance of the opening paragraph. 

As a writer, I now see something that I was lacking in my writing. I could never get the opening scene correct. I would start with, "It was a stormy night..." You know the rest. As I studied Doyle and his works, I saw something I never expected. See if you can spot it, from another book by the author? 

"In the year, 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of London and proceeded to Netley to go through the course prescribed for surgeons in the Army. Having completed my studies there, I was duly attached to the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers as assistant surgeon. The regiment was stationed in India at the time, and before I could join it, the second Afghan war had broken out. On landing at Bombay, I learned that my corps had advanced through the passes, and was already deep in the enemy's country. I followed, however, with many other officers who were in the same situation as myself, and succeeded in reaching Candahar in safety, where I found my regiment, and at once entered upon my new duties." From the book, "A Study in Scarlet," Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, again has drawn me into the story with the very first line of the first paragraph. How does he do it? It's elementary, my dear Watson. He creates a scene that has absolutely nothing to do with the story at hand. How simple, yet clever a way to begin a story.

That brings me to the second step in writing a good story. Set the stage for any event or time - it doesn't matter if it has anything to do with the story or not. Just write a scene! In all my years of writing, I had missed this key element. I used to rack my brain, trying to come up with an opening paragraph that would tie the story together. You know, find a place and event the hero or the villain would most likely hang out. I will admit there are other writers who have a different take on this. My truth is, I need to prove to myself that I can write and that what I have to say is just as important as anyone else.

Step three.

I was looking back over this post and was deciding what I should really point out to keep a writer writing and I came up with a way to explain the final step. Many times I write for a period of time that the words just flow. Other times I pause to try to get the creative juices flowing. It is in those times that I can get bogged down with too many distractions. And here is the final step. Write the way you want to write and not how you think others think you should write. I would think of how someone like Stephen King, would tell his stories. I would ponder on an Ed McBain novel. Sometimes the writings of, Lewis Carroll would flash across my mind. Each author in their own way had a story to tell. Every writer had their style and touch

My method is to just let the story lead me where it wants to go. Even when I am just writing a simple blog post like this one, I let my words lead on. My goal is and always will be to help others find their path to success.

I believe if I follow these 3 steps,  I can't help but know that "Yes," I can do this!  My prayer is that after you read this post, you will come away with a desire to keep at the craft and never give up!

I am posting this on my blog without having finished, because; I want to remind myself that I have to keep writing. That is my whole point!

Go ahead and critique my post and my writing, that is perfectly ok. If you want to comment or if you have any suggestions as to how to make this a better post, let me know. I don't get offended easily.

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