Actually, I should be writing classes but that would not make for an easy-to-read headline. Some of you know that I have been attending a few classes; both fiction and non-fiction, and I’ve been going through the motions … I will have more time again to read up on all the blogs I missed. Pinky swear!
While texting isn’t the worst thing you can do with your life, I do wish for writing something more meaningful.
The German Volkshochschule could be compared to a community college. They offer anything from basket weaving to language classes. All of my lecturers were published authors and, let’s face it, kinda need a bread job as well. While the classes are a bargain, you learn a lot. It is also nice to have a weekly date just for writing (and pass the Corona Winters with something fun). I was lucky to attend two courses in a classroom. With real people! The online classes were actually good fun, too.
So, without further ado, let’s get going!
Here’s my collected writing pain in all its glory.
20 Lessons from Writing Class
Texting is not writing
While I knew this beforehand, I was not aware how much that really messed with my use of language. When you write for Mr. Google the focus is on keyword density and synonyms. You need to use a whole bunch of filling words to please readability in an SEO friendly text (and I may occasionally just throw them in afterwards to a sickening degree). I love the balancing act between writing for the internet and writing for real people. However, with proper writing you want to strip your text of all those fillers.
What is left of your story without all the fluff?
You have a blind eye for your writing
It is super easy to identify that guy who couldn’t set a comma properly if his life depended on it or the lady that loves fancy adverbs … Turns out, I am the uncrowned queen of ands (and I had no idea I did that)
Long sentences are out; so is the comma
Don’t use a comma. Make it a full stop. Period.
I though writers block was looking at a blank page without any ideas.
My head may be too full. The result is the same.
Procrastinating is part of the process
Welcome to I will do anything but the thing I meant to be doing. Seriously, I made my first fresh pasta in January. Looking for a new couch is a timely process and can keep you entertained for a week or two. Plus, once it gets there you gotta figure out where to put all that stuff that lived in the old couch. (Buying fabric is a side effect of sewing. Any similarities to writing here?)
You’d think the place would sparkle by now as if Mr. Clean attended to it himself.
Limbo is a painful place. I’ve been avoiding writing like the plague, but I may not be the first person who finds it hard to start. Try to identify the cause.
Change of scenery
A change of routine or scenery can make a huge difference. While I can’t sit in the library at the moment, I can switch my desk for the kitchen table. It also helps to write in the morning, before the rest of daily tasks get in the way and swallow up the entire day.
Brilliant, hey? I’m reinventing the wheel here.
Make your scope realistic
Instead of writing a novel maybe start with a few short stories. If the pure scale of your project is daunting, try something smaller or break it up into pieces.
Style & Taste
Hemingway is like pizza. Even if it’s not the bomb, it’s still pizza. Turns out MANY people in writing class completely disagree with that. Hemingway that is.
Imagine you were one of the greatest writers on this planet … The sad reality is, that some people would still not like your stuff. James Joyce, Franz Kafka, Homer, J. R. R. Tolkien, Umberto Eco, William Faulkner, William Shakespeare … You get the idea. Some of that stuff is hard to digest. Just cause it’s brilliant, doesn’t mean you (have to) like it. There will always be people that do not dig your writing.
Excuses, there are many. I just have a hard time concentrating on writing because the neighbour on top of us has been screaming all night and now I am tired and there were sled rides before home schooling and maybe, just maybe, I may get a wee bit crazy from Corona lockdown here and there. Set all these aside.
What if all these things had not been there, had I accomplished any more?
Take your time, for a while
Sometimes your story needs to simmer a bit more.
Just don’t wait too long. It might go stale and end up in the bin.
How to spice up your writing the easy way
Apparently, there are a lot of them.
For two decades, I have been mostly reading in English. At least this was easy to fix.
Too many cooks
A writing class gives you great feedback and lots of input. Unfortunately, the more people you ask, the more opinions you will get. (Oh, how one of those cooks crushed me …)
Don’t show unfinished ideas to too many people.
Use feedback to grow
Many of us are not incredibly good at handling criticism. Yet, when you take a class it is part of the process. If you were perfect, you wouldn’t sit there in the first place. An honest opinion is worth more than a polite smile without criticism.
To plot or not to plot
If there is one thing lecturers like to stress in writing class, is the importance of a plot. Without a conflict or some tension, you do not have a viable story. Some people just wing it. I learned that I do need a rough outline, but the characters are allowed to have space. They often know better where to go anyways. While it may sound simple, this is really an important decision for productivity.
Writing & editing
Writing and editing are not the same thing. There is absolutely no use in going back and back to that one chapter, if you are still missing 10 or so. This can be really hard. Even if you wrote the best beginning of all time, you may have to alter things later because something in the story changed. Maybe a part is not logical, maybe just a name changed, or you even kicked out a main character (in a horrible car crash, even though you thought you were writing a love story).
Ambition and perfectionism are not your friends
Set your goals high. Always! However, reaching for the stars when you hardly made it past your backyard might not help you in the long run.
You need to hone your craft. Don’t reach too high, it might leave you disappointed. Perfectionism is just a synonym for not getting anything finished. Set your goals high but stay realistic.
Rome wasn’t built in a day.
At some point you must write
The perfect time will never come. You can take writing classes all you like; at some point it is entirely up to you to put those freaking words on paper.
Don’t get lost in research
For all of you who blog or write I probably don’t need to explain this further. It is great to brush up on sentence structure or character development. Consider The Elements of Style by William Strunk, rather than the whole freaking internet.
I was gonna write library, but it is pretty shocking what kind of advice you find online. Maybe it’s just me, but if you wanna teach me how to write
good well, perhaps you should lead by example.
Write for yourself
Last but certainly not least, at the end of the day you are writing for yourself. My little gnome picture book developed a life of it’s own, so I really want to see if I can take this idea further. Maybe no one will ever read it but I really need to finish it just for myself.
While I’m moving at the pace of a snail at least finally there is movement and I’m excited to see where we are going!
Do you have any more tips about writing? What does your writing process look like?
I would love to read your thoughts!
Thanks for flying with be kitschig and have a nice weekend!
If you’d like to make fresh pasta as well, head over to the lovely Parmigiana Whisperer. Making pasta is a wonderful form of procrastinating.