Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It's Not Just Words on Paper

Another piece of advice I hate almost as much as sparkly vampires is when I hear or read someone telling their "students" that all they need to do is "just write."  This is akin to telling a scrawny kid that all he or she needs to do in order to be Lebron James Jeremy Lin is go outside and shoot mid-range jumpers until his or her fingers fingers fall off.

Like this, but with more blood.

In the first place, anyone with a computer or a piece of graphite--so basically everyone--can write.  More importantly, if their fingers fall off not even Harvard will offer a basketball scholarship.

Even if you write ten thousand words a week for the next fifty years, you still won't be much of a writer if that's all you are doing.  To say that reading is fundamental is not just a nostalgic ninety's PSA, it's actually one of of the best things to know if you want to write in any manner that might convince someone to pick up what you are putting down.

Just seeing this made kids more intelligent back then.

I read an average of fifty thousand words a day, not counting banner ads and lame ESPN photo captions.  If I could, I'd prefer to double that total.  If it seems like quite a bit of reading, it breaks down to something like one or two Bill Simmons articles, three joke website posts, ten chapters of print books, a Gladwell essay, and recaps of the sports events I bother to care about.

When you think of it like that, it doesn't take that much time, one you split it into digestible chunks for you brain as if you are preparing food for that possibly insane but undoubtedly rich great-uncle that no one else wants to talk to.

You would make his cocaine and Quaalude soup every day.  Be honest.

The point being, if you absorb even a tenth of the style and substance of what you are reading, you'll find that you lose a lot of bad habits much faster than you would trying to attend over-priced seminars and vocational college courses.

Sorting through the mess to find your own voice, like Martin Sheen searching for Kurtz, can take a while, and you might not be satisfied by what you come up with the first time, but eventually you'll figure it out.

Doing it by vomiting words on unsuspecting pieces of paper or computer screens will take twice as long, with ten times the mess, and there's no guarantee you'll end up with what you want anyway.  You could do all of that work and your son might still end up snorting coke off prostitutes' ass cheeks.

No, I don't recognize him.

One of the main lesson I aim to address in these posts is the idea that writing doesn't have to be hard.  there are short-cuts and learning them doesn't have to come in $39.95 installments.  When you find a writer that you enjoy--like me, for instance--take the opportunity to read whatever they have to offer--might I suggest my novel?  Figure out what works and what doesn't when it comes to your personal preferences and store the good stuff in your toolbox, like Stephen King suggested.

He has made eleventy-billion dollars more through writing than you have.
(My apologies if you are J.K. Rowling)

And if you have to just write to find your rhythm?  I could try and keep fighting, but in the end, I don't suppose it matters.  Just make sure no one ever sees that stuff.  I hear napalm works well.

Ben Snyder used snort cocaine off of prostitute's breasts, but it got too expensive.  Now he favors discount private dances and taking hits from the joint hidden in her fake Louis Vuitton purse.  While neither of those stories are true, it is a fact that you can download his novel here.  You can also follow him on Twitter @snglmaltproof or email him at WhereTheMeatComesFrom@gmail.com.

No comments:

Post a Comment