The End of the Beginning

I’ve been writing creatively for about six months now and it’s been an interesting experience. I had no specific plans about how I would go about becoming a writer when I started. I just plunged in. This is about how it has gone so far.

I’ve been writing creatively for about six months now and it’s been an interesting experience. I had no specific plans about how I would go about becoming a writer when I started. I just plunged in. This is about how it has gone so far.

If you read my earlier post you’ll know I’ve been doing some form of daily writing for about four years. When I decided give up on day book and then diary forms of writing after so long, it was quite an exciting change. I had no problem writing my first essay about my foray into this new territory.

Then came the second day. I no longer had the endless stream of material that was my daily life to write about. So I wrote about the panic of having to come up with something new to say everyday. The following day’s writing was a little easier and I started to get into a routine. I wrote in the late afternoon and would start thinking about what I wanted to say not long after getting up. Try as I might, I just couldn’t think of any truly fictional story ideas.

When I sat down to write and didn’t have a subject in mind, I tried writing about whatever came into my head. An idea would come to me and I would get down a paragraph or two. Then I would find myself sitting there struggling to come up with the next idea. If I just kept typing, even if what I wrote didn’t make any sense, eventually something would come up. I was usually relieved after my self imposed goal of 1000 words or one hour was completed.

Another tact I took was to write in cafes. I thought a change of locale would inspire me. So I tried it in a couple different ones. It was fun writing about the scenes and the people in them. In a San Francisco North Beach cafe, a man walked in all black with a top hat and high leather boots. He spoke with a voice box. A great character to write a story around. After a couple of visits, there wasn’t anything new to write about so I gave up on the idea. At least I now have a nice cache of material should I ever need to write a cafe scene. I still go to a cafe close to my home every week, but I just do editing while I’m there and look out for odd characters.

Around this time, I decided to do my writing in the morning. As soon as I had breakfast, drank my espresso, and read my online papers, I would start. I had more energy and I was less likely to have other tasks get in my way.

The Autobiographical Experience

In some of my free thinking sessions, I would be reminded of some event from my past. The time and the words fly by when I wrote about it. So I decided to continue to mine my memories. The best writing was about past loves. Nothing like romance to get the writing juices flowing. Some memories I hesitated to attempt. When I did, it was a cathartic experience and made for good writing.

Soon, I was writing more than my hour minimum and spending additional time editing the chapter. I would even go back later in the day to make more changes. After writing a bunch of chapters, I began to worry about running out of material. Fortunately, writing about one memory would trigger several others. I was surprised by how much I dredged up.

By the time I ran out of memories, I had written about 50,000 words and now have a pretty complete autobiography. I was pleased that I could write so much on single subject. Writing a novel no longer seems so daunting. I don’t have plans to publish the autobiography. Perhaps I’ll edit into shape just so I can say I wrote it.

Side Benefits

Writing my personal history turned out to useful in a couple of ways. It gave me a lot of practice writing stories, albeit factual ones, and it served as fodder for fictional creations.

When I wrote a chapter about my life, I would try to make an interesting story out of it. I would start with an interesting opening line, build suspense where possible, and wrap it up in a nice conclusion. It was good practice.

My real experiences also made great source material for fictional creations. I would start a story with something that really happened to me and then create a completely new alternative outcome.

Finally, story ideas independent of my personal experiences started coming to me. I think writing my autobiography helped me get there. I still sprinkle in small events from my life. What author doesn’t.

On My Way

After months of trying different things, I’m now to the point where I feel I’m doing real creative writing. I’ve written several short stories and I even have a good start on a piece that might turn into a novel. While my writing is improving with each effort, the quality still isn’t very good. It may be some time before I’m ready to publish anything, but I finally feel I’m on the road to doing so.

Categories: Writing