“When someone else says you’re a writer, that’s when you’re a writer. Not before.”
Wise words, maybe; not accurate, however. You’re a writer when you feel your character(s): their hardships, their love, their defeats, their jubilation. I considered myself a writer the day I wrote an unofficial, congratulatory letter to my fictional, younger sister who had just received the first rank in her examination, from my fictional hostel room, as part of my primary school curriculum. There’s one important thing you must remember, everything you write must be honest and from within – a personal experience – even when it’s fantasy or fiction, and doesn’t remotely resemble anything in your life right now.
As a writer, you can never stop thinking about life and its experiences; never can your thoughts remain in the normal, acceptable spectrum of beliefs, which is why most of these thoughts are crushed before they take shape, in the fear of scaring away or alienating your everyday friends. Those friends you create in your head, your protagonist, the love-interest, the antagonist, these fictional friends never make it out of your daydreams. Daydreaming is essentially what provides you with the ammunition to create a new world that allows your readers escape reality from, but before that, you have to escape and look at reality as an non-participating observer. Whether it’s in a hostel bathroom, surrounded by sounds that are too graphic and full of towels that hang too low, or if it’s a middle of the night nightmare just prior to a big exam, these ill-timed dreams that screw with your mind are responsible for the ideas that give shape to your stories. You can’t successfully shape these ideas into the stories they deserve to be until you take out the preconceived notions and biases you have may have; your characters may be based on your own personality but let them figure out their own reaction to an event, without any judgement and prodding from you. It’s important to remember, as you write, that every character has a life independent from you; even though they’re only alive on paper, let them breathe and live.
NaNoWriMo is an annual event most amateur and semi-professional writers are aware of. Every November, thousands of aspiring writers build, share, write, correct, critique, develop, review their own novel, while helping others along the way, together working towards a goal of 50,000 words each. I came upon this event in December last year, narrowly missing out, but I have it bookmarked ever since. Unfortunately, at the end of November 2015, I will be taking, by far, the most important examination in the life, and will not be contributing/taking part in this edition of NaNoWriMo. After the initial disappointment and anger, I realized I didn’t need any event in any month to give words to my ideas. My thoughts don’t need to see the light of day only in the month of November, nor do they have to be critiqued by strangers online. There’s no problem with that but I have a fair few friends who love to correct my grammar, insult my vocabulary and offer excessive, suffocating amounts of help, without needing any incentive.
So what should I do now? Simple, what every writer should do: write! While most fiction writing tips and help providing websites (I’ve visited about a 100 of them) mention the need to create a backbone before anything else: a series of events in the story jotted down, knowing how the story ends and how many characters-their occupations, mannerisms, vices-are going to be a part of it, before writing the first chapter.
My project, that starts today, involves no planning at all. I don’t know whether I’m writing a fantasy, a thriller, a novella, a flash-fiction, or the biography of a telephone pole. I will simply sit down at my dinner table one hour a day (that one hour that isn’t reserved for my study preparation), scribble down notes as they come to me and type the first chapter without it heading in any direction, much like this piece of writing, which is so disjointed that it could have been posted as several, individual pieces of information. It may very well be that I go nowhere, just running around a tree over and over, without any end in sight, and could end with a ‘Ctrl+A’ followed by ‘Backspace’, or maybe, this creative outlet will produce just enough to keep me motivated. Motivated for what, you ask?
No one, except the one providing unconditional support, in the 22 years of my life, had ever told me, “You should take writing seriously”, and in the past three weeks, I’ve been told those particular words four times, mostly because of my blog post – Three Flat Lines. I still don’t see it as a viable career option; it’s just a hobby that provides an escape for me and, hopefully, for my readers, from this life that is full of responsibilities, deadlines and moving ahead in a straight line (while thousands and thousands of people doing the same, pushing and shoving you along the way). For a brief moment or two, I want my readers to step out of this line and experience a new life. I want at least one person, now or years later, to realise that it’s perfectly alright to take a break from this never-ending line. When that happens, when I have proof that there’s someone out there who took this flight away from reality because of my writing, I will see myself as a writing success.
That’s all, really. You can go back to your busy lives, while I go back to mine. Thank you for visiting this blog of mine, and I hope to see you again. Be sure to like and follow the blog, if you want to keep an eye on my progress. I also must urge you to share my previous blog posts, assuming you liked reading them. It just takes a click and it’ll probably be buried in the dozens of 10 things that prove you are … posts that seem to have filled social media websites recently, but one share provides as much motivation to an amateur writer, like myself, as a pat on the back for a job well done.
TL;DR – I’m going to writing a lot in the near future. Stay tuned.
P.S. – I haven’t proofread any portion of this blog post, so excuse any glaring errors.