Yes, I went to uni and studied English. But was I listening? Perhaps I was. Subconsciously. Because all I can remember about uni was sitting at the cafe and socialising with crazy looking punk chicks and dreaming about my next gig and the awesome electric guitar I won in a band competition and how I was going to go to its manufacturer to get them to make the body purple and sparkly. I actually graduated from uni with quite good grades, but I wasn't a genius. I did what I had to do to get the degree. But I still made it. Didn't I? And somehow everything I learnt at uni is being used today. When I write. And forget exactly how it is that I'm doing it.
Lose yourself when you write, people. It's the only way. And the only way to get the results you deserve: writing others can lose themselves in too.
Do you know how to do the thing you do?
It's when you have to explain how to do something to someone who doesn't know how that you realise it has become so subconscious, so natural, you cannot begin to describe it. Like walking. How do we walk?ReplyDelete
So you've got a point - go with the flow because if you start to think about the mechanics you might trip up!
I only know what flows from my brain. No uni, only basic school English for me.ReplyDelete
I am literally learning as I go along.
Have fun. :)
I like the analogy to walking - or riding a bike, or anything once learnt then subconsciously done in later life - made by your first commentator. And I agree - up to a point, Lord Copper, with you too. I used to write, without conscious thought, and lose myself and I still do. But I've started to become more naturally curious about the mechanics of it recently; I want to take the back off, tinker with the mechanism and tune the engine. And you know, that can make for wonderful editing!ReplyDelete
I agree, but I think mechanics should come in with editing, mainly, not the writing in my opinion. If I think of mechanics when writing I find it stunts my imagination!ReplyDelete
Although there’s clearly a science to writing – sentences should have a noun and a verb, that sort of thing – writing is also an art and art tends towards imitation. It may mix up its sources but it starts off looking at something and then transferring it to paper or whatever. It’s what happens in the process of transference that’s inexplicable. Why does Modigliani paint faces the way he does and Francis Bacon paint faces the way he does? The faces they’re copying are all basically the same. What those images have to get through is the mishmash of all the unique experiences of the artist: we’re all just sieves. Writing is also basically imitation which is why the one thing most writers agree on as the basic requirement for being a writer is that they are a reader. My head is full of millions of sentences and the words I’m typing just now is being constructed out of nearly fifty years’ experiences of sentences right from Dick and Jane on.ReplyDelete
As for how we construct stories the bottom line is that there is no right way and the only way to learn is by having a crack at it and seeing what feels comfortable. There are some things in this life that you have to do on your own: you watch people riding a bike or swimming and then you have a go. And writing is much the same.
there are so many techniques we learn along the way that we pick up here and there, that yes, it would be extremely hard to sit down and explain to someone how to write. I'd say, just get started!ReplyDelete
Basically as only nonesense ic put down on paper heaven knows what is going on inside my brain.ReplyDelete
Loved and enjoyed the read.
Yup, I hear you. I can't break down what I do to save my life.ReplyDelete
I've seen you look like a crazy looking punk chick. You were hot.ReplyDelete
And I think you're right. I don't know how to write either, not formally, and I have no degree. But I do it, and I lose myself in it, and I think I'm decent at it.
I hope I am.
No! That's why you don't see me posting writing tips.ReplyDelete
I don't the hows or whys of creativity either. When I write, I often lose track of time. I'll look up and it will be hours later. And writing songs? I have NO idea where they come from or how melody, chords and words all come together at the same time.ReplyDelete
So true. It's like when someone asks where I get my ideas. I don't know, blue?ReplyDelete
Love this post. Relying on your intuition.ReplyDelete
I know how to write... terribly! I wasn't listening in grammar classes either and boy, do I regret it in the editing phase. Oh well, that's why I love writing: It's a challenge!ReplyDelete
Hahah, yes I do and sometimes that's my downfall! You're right how the importance of "losing yourself" in the writing (or music playing, or painting, or whatever). That's often when the most beautiful moments are found.ReplyDelete
Great post. I'm not sure that I could explain to someone else how to write other than you just sit down and do it. I probably wouldn't be a very good teacher because I don't think I could teach anyone how to sew either, I would just get impatient and say "Oh it is easier, faster, prettier if I just sew this."ReplyDelete
I can sort of explain how I write. I just let all my thoughts fizz for a while into the best idea or sentence bubbles to the surface.ReplyDelete
But I have no idea how I play music. I mean, I can read the stuff just fine, but that has nothing to do with how well I harmonize, improvise, or play back something I've only heard once. If I was a better fiddler, I'd say I had the devil in me, but I guess it's just innate.
Lose yourself when you write -- that's awesome advice! Your university memories sound like mine, except the crowds we migrated toward were a little different. But that's what I remember, the socializing. Good times!!ReplyDelete
Yes! Thank you! I don't know how to write either. Now I don't feel quite so fake. :)ReplyDelete
Great post, Jessica. And, no. I don't know how to do anything! I sculpt, paint, write, and yet other than relating my experiences, I can't really tell anyone how exactly to accomplish the thing, other than to just do it, and keep doing it, and study how others do it, and learn from past geniuses.ReplyDelete
BTW, your interview is up on my blog. Thanks again for the interview! You are truly an inspiration! http://jmleottifantasyart.blogspot.com/2011/03/interview-writer-inspiration-jessica.html
Ha! I never feel like I know I'm doing. Not while I was writing my first book, nor the second, nor the third ...ReplyDelete
Once I got an agent I sort of started to feel like I was learning, but there's still so much to absorb! And I feel silly giving people advice, because what do I know? lol
I'll always have that advice chanting in my head: 'practice, practice practice!' :)ReplyDelete
hi miss jessica! when youre like me and not so school smart all you got is the just do it kinda writing. so mostly i just do what i do when i do it. do that make sense. ha ha.ReplyDelete
...big hugs just for you
I don't have any mechanics either. I just write. I don't do plotting either. I don't know if that's bad or not. But I just write. Then something comes out of it.ReplyDelete
I think those last lines are the best advice I've seen about writing in a while. I would love to put them on my wall as a quote.ReplyDelete
hmmm... when I was in my 20s, I taught a buncha high schoolers how to write, and I sure was convinced I knew what I was doing. I learned a lot about what I didn't know about anything... I don't think I can teach you how to love it or how to find that seedling of inspiration, but once you're doing it, I can show you how to make it pretty~ :D <3ReplyDelete
Yup. Pretty much.ReplyDelete
Your analogy to playing music is good. When I am playing anything worth playing on the guitar, if someone were ask me how I am playing it, I think I would immediately fumble it and not be able to pick it back up where I was…
What separates a good piece of writing from a bad piece of writing on the exact same topic is an intangible something that can’t be imparted.
All of which doesn’t mean I’m magical or you’re magical or the next guy is magical. It just means… I dunno. Those who can’t, teach?
Now I'm wondering what came first...THIS post or Stephen T. McCarthy's?ReplyDelete
I'm far too lazy to check the time stamps.
Bravo, Jessica for the best writing advice there is...WRITE.
I do precious little of it anymore (by choice), but up in a closet I've got a couple dozen binders filled with every lyric or fragment thereof I've ever written, along with a boatload of short stories and quite a few unfinished manuscripts (in the seventies and eighties, we called them manuscripts or drafts, not WIP's).
I used to write lyrics daily and they flowed like a leaky pipe. A lot of them were worthy of being used to paper train a dog, but a lot were pretty good according to some musicians I collaborated with and some others who've read the "greatest hits" collections over the years.
By writing a lot, I got better at it.
And by writing shinola, I learned how to tell the stuff that was worth keeping.
Which reminds me-I sent Arlee Bird copies of some of my stuff and never heard anything.
Maybe they weren't so good after all.
PS-you were missed on the debut albums blog hop. I'd still like to see your list one day!
I believe in the Zen of Writing : to write in the moment, to feel what is going on in the heart and head of my characters, going from there.ReplyDelete
Are you feeling better? Roland
I can't describe how I write except to tell people about my years of rejections, drafts, revisions, practice, and perseverance. But the nuts and bolts...not really.ReplyDelete
As a therapist I also find this to be true- the more I work with people, the more I instinctively know what technique to use, while forgetting what the name of that technique might be. Sometimes grad students ask me questions about what I am doing using "appropriate vocabulary" and I have to work to remember what they are talking about, especially since I work with kids, so I don't use our big words much. Instead of thinking, "I will establish rapport" with this client, I am thinking "I better do something to make this kid feel comfortable" and pull the right thing out of my bag of tricks.ReplyDelete