I want to talk today on my take on creative writing. As I sit, alone in my bedroom, I have the beginnings of a manuscript open in the background, silently judging me while I whittle down the hours of the day playing video games, and along side it sits, in a separate Word document, a little notepad where I write down little details about the book which I might forget. I have never attended a creative writing course, though, of course, researching and reading about different styles of writing, along with networking with other authors, is something I have done on and off for about 5 years now. I want to talk about how I write, and a little on how I think not to write.
First of, how not to write. I mentioned creative writing courses. I think they’re a good way of getting people interested in writing but, if they’re the be all and end all of your flare for writing, then you might want to consider a different career path. I remember once, my history teacher in Sixth Form, asked me what I wanted to do when I was older, and I said I wanted to be a writer. She said that she thought the only creative writing course worth its salt was in a university in America, which sounded very expensive and very pointless. I abhor the idea that the only way a person can learn is through being taught by others who deem themselves “professionals” because they have paid the necessary price, and doubly so when it comes to creative exploits. The only thing I can come up with to verbalise my way of thinking about this is with a quote from Oscar Wilde: “nothing worth learning can be taught.” In other words, the way you learn to write, and write well, is powering through the whole load of shite that comes with creativity. I don’t think a lot of what I’ve got down in my manuscript has reached its final form. Of course, there are a couple of lines that I’m quite proud of, use of alliteration and verbose vocabulary, but I am yet to reach a stage where I think it’s worth people paying for it.
Now onto my philosophy, though, spoiler alert, tomorrow’s post will be about a thing called “The Hero’s Journey,” a book on creative writing by Joseph Campbell. When I write I usually start with a setting. Where do I want this scene to take place, and why does it have to be there? Sometimes the answers are rather rudimentary, for example, a husband and wife have a conversation in their home because they live there. However, if they’re going to have an argument, then why should they have it in their home? If they’re having a relaxed conversation then you can make their surroundings reflect this, making the scene somewhere they’re comfortable in and familiar. If the scene calls for tension on the other hand, like if characters are having an argument, why not make it outside, in a public place, where everyone and anyone could overhear them or where they bump into another person at an inopportune moment.
However, that is just what works for me. A lot of authors, I imagine, start with a really good story that they want to tell, and deciding when and where it is set is entirely secondary to them. My god, I just realised how much of a task I set myself with trying to contain this all in one post. Okay, new idea: I’m going to dedicate the next few posts to talking about my philosophy of writing in every regard. Consider this an overview, if not a very good one. Tomorrow will still be Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey,” but the posts after that will be titled “Story and Narrative,” “Characters,” “Setting,” “Driving force,” “Writing Style,” and probably a couple of others that I haven’t thought of yet. But for now, goodnight.