How to write stories, people ask me constantly. In fact, every time I start a new class, the most common argument among my students over the years has been “I can’t write.”
“Bollocks,” I tell them as I warn them that kind of language will not be tolerated in my classroom. Swearing, however, is always welcome. You can swear as much as you like, but you can’t tell me you can’t do something as intrinsically human as writing.
I’m not talking about the act of putting down words together. I’m talking about telling a story. Any story.
Surely you were forced to write about your summer at some point in school. And you have written personal letters or emails to loved ones too, where you shared feelings and emotions. See, you can write.
The thing is, you may not be a Lorca, Austen, or Wilde – don’t worry, most of us aren’t – but you have stories to share. And that’s where it all begins.
Only you see the world through your eyes. Only you experience life in that manner. Only you have lived the way you have. You know of your pains, your joys, your lessons. That’s uniquely and exclusively to you. So you have a story to tell. The only hindrance you may face is ‘how to put it on paper.’
Writing is not solely based on talent. There’s a large share of technique attached to it. And a lot of practice too.
Think of marathon runners. They may have the legs and the stamina, but they still need to practice every day to build up on their resilience, to improve their technique, and be able to cross the finishing line as a winner.
Writers are no different. Daily – or at least frequent – practice is a must. And yes, there are tricks of the trade that enable you to translate your thoughts and emotions onto paper. Nothing comes to you as a divine inspiration. You must work at it and for it too.
The first step is to have an idea of what it is that you want to tell. Write down a few points you want to make. A list good enough at this stage. Now you have your story. All you have to do is write it.
I know, starting is always the hardest part. So here’s a trick for you.
Right on the top of your blank page write: “What I want to say is…” and take it from there. Write away. Even what doesn’t seem to make any sense. Typos are allowed. Censorship is not part of this game. Editing will have its turn to shine. But hey, you’re writing!