Peggy Bechko: Wanna Be A Writer?

Jack Kerouac does that writing thing
Jack Kerouac does that writing thing

by Peggy Bechko

Yes, really, it is.

Everything you need is there, inside you. There are parts you don’t normally let out to play, but they’re there.

Here are a few thoughts on getting your mind set right to be a writer, a really good one.

First be open and curious. Observe people, places, things, animals, whatever, really observe via scent, sight, feelings, everything at your disposal. Engage in life and it’s going to shine through your writing.

A place were many writers fall down is their reaction to criticism. If you’re going to be great, accept criticism. Learn from it. Grow because of it. It won’t all be accurate, but enough of it will have some validity and if you give yourself a chance to absorb it you’re going to make some great new discoveries. Breathe in breathe out, move on! Indulge in a momentary irritation if it hits you wrong, then refocus, analyze and move on.

And while you’re at it, love to read and write. Don’t simply do it because you think you have to or you just want to. If you don’t really love reading and writing ask yourself why you want to be a writer. It’s a valid question because, again, if you don’t really love what you’re doing why do you think your readers will love reading what you wrote? It comes through. Think about that for a while.

Take risks with your writing. Take giant risks. Don’t be afraid to shock your readers (while not simply writing to shock). The you deep inside might be (and probably is) quite different than the you you show to the world. Ruffle some feathers. Take the road less traveled. Let the crazy you inside come out to play in your writing. Turn it loose like Godzilla attacking Tokyo~and blossom.

Always think of your readers. Remember them. Keep them in mind when you write. That’s your audience. That’s who’s getting wrapped up in this story – and hopefully looking forward to your next. You’re going to hear from them as you write so you may as well get used to it and believe you have someone looking over your shoulder as you create that next great piece of writing.

And finally, for this go-round, don’t take mundane experiences for granted. Those are the threads woven in to the background of life. Those are the ‘normal’ things that can make horror more horrifying, a western more gritty, a mystery more spooky. The more ‘normalcy’, the more ‘mundane’ you slip into the background of a story, the more the story jumps out, the more your writing blooms. So pay attention to those mundane experiences when they occur. Savor them. Think of where they can best be used in your next story.

Go ahead, be a writer, it’s all in your head.