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Monday, May 14, 2012

Seven Days :: Starting at the Beginning

Even the most significant journey begins with a first step (or summat...)

This is the first of a week's worth of posts published in association with the Newbie Blogger Initiative.

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Writing is, as a wise man once told me, a mug's game.

The moment you put pen to paper (as it was in this context) there's a Pandora's Box of emotional turmoil just waiting to explode into you mind and body. Like anything, if you did it right the high you'd be able to achieve was, frankly, unlike nothing else you'd ever experience. Doing it wrong, however... and this is when I began to understand just how utterly subjective writing can be. I liked to frustrate my Secondary School writing teacher. I'd find ways to make him question my every move, my motivation for every character's action, until one day he asked me to stay at the end of class. I assumed I was in trouble, but my marks weren't bad. I did what I was asked of me, every time, I just found increasingly deranged ways for the things to transpire.

My teacher sat me down and made it perfectly clear to me. There were rules to writing. The same way there were rules to painting, or science, or any of the other subjects I was learning. I needed to learn them, and once I did then I could break them as I chose, because I would understand WHY these things were important. I could not screw around with narrative form until I understood what it was and could reproduce it... because in the end, to be successful, even the most obscure and seemingly eclectic writers 'got the point.' As soon as you commit any words to anywhere where it isn't just you reading them, a great many things change, and you need to understand WHY you wrote these words in the way you did, because someone, at some point, will challenge you not simply on their validity, but on their very construction. When you have that level of understanding, you can use the words however the Hell you want.

I'd never heard a teacher swear before, even if it was (in relative terms) the softest of insults. I'd also never had an adult in school treat me in this way before: I was important. This was important too, and suddenly I grasped the significance of what I was being told. Writing is an art, you can learn it, even if you feel you have no previous ability, and there are rules to follow. Once you have these on board, anything frankly is possible. The first step in your journey isn't sitting down and just writing, it's understanding who you are when you begin. Once those rules are grasped it stops being about the tools, and becomes all about the wielder...

YOU are the Beginning. Your thoughts and feelings are the raw materials you bring to the process, and then it is time to shape them, to produce something special and unique. Some take a very analytical and methodical approach, others write almost in a stream of conciousness. The best writers understand however that their voice is always there, the constant companion that people will learn to either love or hate, as long as there is SOME reaction... you know, it doesn't actually matter. Writing in a blogging context is a word away from my other love (which I'm finally attempting to crack) but the basic principles apply for any form of the written word. Be ready to stand by your words, and be ready to grasp that the moment you press PUBLISH someone on this planet is likely to find them, and if they read them, you've done what you set out to do.

The first step is always the hardest, but undoubtedly the most satisfying. The biggest thing to conquer before you begin are your own fears.

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