Whenever I doubt myself, I simply sit down to write and remember this quote.
I cannot pass by one without pausing to admire it. If it’s within reach, I cannot resist touching it. I trace the retro curves and mechanical angles before finally letting my fingers settle reverently on the keys. Glass and lacquer, enamel and chrome, Bakelite and celluloid – the keys are the most irresistible part of […]
In my previous post 5 Things Every Writing Room Should Have, I promised I would share my redecorated writing room. I really wish I had taken “before” pictures so you can all see the total transformation but you’ll just have to take my word for it. Previously, the room had pale, faded yellow paint and hideous red carpet. It was outdated, claustrophobic and boring. Now it looks like this…
I painted the walls with a two-tone roller with a dark green and light green paint. The two colors mix when placed on the wall, creating a wide variety of tones. The roller also has a unique texture that when used with the greens gives quite the leafy forest feel. I was pleased to find this beautiful wood floor under the red carpet. Together, the walls and floor create the perfect nature feel that I’m crazy about!
I’m lucky enough to have room for this large bookshelf and a reading chair.
One more bookshelf because you can never have enough…
I purchased this quill sticker to place above my desk to add a little flair. (I love the entire room but this just might be my favorite part!) I’ve also started collecting books that are either really old or have unique spines/titles to place on an independent shelf next to this sticker. Although the collection is pretty minimal so far, you get the idea.
So that’s my new writing room! I feel very lucky to have such an amazing space to chase my dreams and I think I truly captured all 5 of my requirements for a great writing room:
1. A Sense of Comfort
2. An Abundance of Writing Tools
3. Lots and lots of Books!
4. Resources and…
5. Something that Reminds me Why I Write
As I currently redesign my “writing room,” I’m constantly thinking about what I want the room to be. What color should I paint the walls? What kind of decorations do I want to hang? What should I fill my bookshelves with? What do I want the general feel of the room to be? I understand not everyone is lucky enough to have an entire room they can call their “writing room” (and I feel very grateful to be one of the few) but I think every serious writer needs a “writing space.” Somewhere they sit down and immediately feel like writing is the right thing to do. If you want to be a writer and don’t already have a writing space, make one! It could be the desk in the middle of your living room or the corner table at the local coffee house. It could be the porch in your backyard or a park bench with a notebook on your lap. Wherever it may be, however big or small, keep the following in mind when you choose a new spot or perfect your current one.
If your not comfortable, you won’t be able to focus on your work. If your too cold or too hot you’ll be strangled by blankets or wishing you were jumping in your neighbors swimming pool the whole time. If your in public and worried about that creepy barista staring at you, get out of there! If your roommate’s giggles are echoing through the apartment as she watches that movie with her new crush, put your headphones on. Control the things you can control, put distractions out of reach.
At the minimum you need a notebook and a pen/pencil. Maybe also a desk, a computer, a chair, post it notes, inspirational photos, a window, a whiteboard to sketch an outline, music, headphones. Not everyone will need all of these things but everyone’s writing space should have all the tools they need to make Number 1 a reality.
Is this not the thing that inspired us to write in the first place? Then it should be there to always remind us and to teach us. Reading is essential to any writer’s success, so make sure to have books close at hand. We’ve all heard Stephen King’s quote, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” And he is right. Reading is how we learn as writers, its how we figure out what we like and don’t like, what works and what doesn’t, what makes our eyes zoom across the page and what makes our eyelids heavy. Not to mention that if you enjoy writing, I’d be shocked to hear you don’t enjoy reading. So keep your books close!
This will most likely be more books; a dictionary, thesaurus, a book of interesting facts or jokes. Books on writing. I know what you’re thinking, why do I need books when I can search all that stuff on the internet? Well, when you’re hunched over your keyboard for hours and you suddenly can’t spit out the word on the tip of your tongue, why keep hunching over the keyboard to Google it when you can lean back in your chair, grab a book and flip a few pages until inspiration strikes?
Place your favorite book on your desk and mark your favorite passages. That quote that puts it in perspective, paint it on the wall above your desk. Pictures of people and places that inspire you. A collage of beautiful, mysterious, interesting, curious, unique thought-provoking Google Images. A Wordle image that includes everything you need to remember while writing. Make it personal. Make it something that when your head feels completely empty and you throw your head back in despair, this something will catch your eye and say to you, “There’s a reason you’re doing this, don’t you remember? This is what you’re suppose to do. This is your art.”
Consciously or not, our characters take on a part of ourselves. They might take on our quirks or our bad habits, they might take our sense of humor or our fears. Our characters take adventures we wish we could experience and they face adversity with the strength we wish we could muster. Sometimes. Other times, our characters express the worst of us. They bully the nerdy kids we once were and they accompany us as we wallow in our own misery. The revelation could be life-changing but more likely realizing your character has adapted part of yourself will make you smile as you sit alone with your computer one day. Becoming aware of that part of yourself will open up that character—and probably yourself—to a new understanding.
Creativity is a muscle that needs to be toned. Using your creativity to string together unique sentence structures and weave multiple plot lines into one story will help you devise creative solutions to life’s more pertinent problems. Understanding your character’s deepest ambitions, fears and truths will help you relate to your friends, family, coworkers and hopefully even strangers on the street a little more.
Becoming a great writer takes practice. Building a plot line from scratch and following it through to the end is a huge accomplishment because it’s not easy. I’ve heard too many stories of writers who have quit halfway through writing a novel; pushing through and writing a hundred little scenes that come together as one story will teach you things nothing else can. Writing a novel will force you to create a complete world and unlike short stories, you will need more than a few characters to populate it. Things get complicated. Unraveling and then controlling those complications is a necessity to writing a great novel and practice is the only thing that will get you there. You will make connections you didn’t see before and you may just find some magic that you never knew was there.
The most brilliant writers can create round characters in a single sentence and have you sharing their tears by the end of a short story. Unfortunately, most of us are not quite that good. Sticking with your main characters through the length of a novel will force you to fully develop them. They will follow you around throughout your day and hopefully by the end of the novel they will be the ones showing you where the story needs to go next. Learning to understand a character to that depth will help you develop more round characters in the future.
That’s what they always tell us it takes to make it in the world. What better way to prove you can do those things then by sitting down night after night, putting words on the page without any immediate reward?
How often do you have the power to create an entire world to your exact liking? If you wish our world had magic or mummies or dragons, nothing is stopping you from making that true. If you want to know what kind of world it would be without electricity or without fear, write it. If you’ve always wondered what it would like to be an astronaut or a detective or a shark’s best friend, write it and have fun with it! Create anyone you’d like and have them do whatever you wish you could do. There are no limits.
Sound shallow? William Faulkner once said, “Don’t be a writer, be writing.” Once writing becomes part of your everyday routine, you won’t feel the need to tell everyone you meet, you will simply be.
You may not believe it will get published but you have to start somewhere. Even if every publisher and agent turns you down, they will at least have heard of your name.
Whenever I doubt myself, I simply sit down to write and remember this quote.
If your soul seeks art as mine does, you have probably seen a featured artist painting for a crowd. Now, imagine watching a writer at work. (Typing, backspace, backspace, backspace. Typing… more typing. Delete an entire paragraph. Typing again…) Why would that be so boring? 1) Of course, writing is not a visual art but also because 2) the final product shows us everything we need to see. Like glass, writing is transparent.
No matter how complex of an art writing can become, there is always one simple thing about it: you can see every single aspect that composes it. Every single word, white space, punctuation and choice the author makes is laid out in neat lines in front of us. Compared to music or painting where layers are stacked on top of each other so you see or hear multiple things at once or hide entire layers beneath a top coat of paint. Unfortunately, the transparency of writing does not make it easy because also like glass, writing is delicate.
Every piece of prose must have solid line to line writing. If the reader is constantly tripping over words or having to reread sentences to make sense of what is happening, the reading will not be enjoyable. Even if you have the most intriguing characters in the most original and suspenseful plot of the year, it means very little without solid prose. Thankfully, the skill of writing can be learned and is taught to every young child and honed throughout their entire education but the craft of writing creatively is much more complex.
Character and plot are obvious ones but there are small, yet critical choices in every sentence. Key word choices can make or break the mood of the story. Every character has to be round, consistent and interesting enough for the reader to want to live their life for a little while. Point of view, chapter length, present vs. past tense, how much background and detail to include, showing vs. telling. There are so many elements of writing that it’s impossible to think about all those things at once. That’s why writing depends a lot upon instinct and this crazy thing we call revision. 😛
The delicacy of writing poses the challenge and the transparency allows the opportunity to learn. Learning from that transparency is exactly what I’m hoping to push on myself and my readers with the Glass Typewriter.