At home I don’t have a room of my own. I don’t have the luxury of locking myself in my room and exploring my creativity in peace. I can’t be in my zone, focusing only on my writing like most authors do. For a teenager like me, who goes to school, I have to juggle school, friends, and hobbies. Nothing must lack or suffer. I need to be on top of all of them because they shape who I am and I draw most of my inspiration from them.
I spend most of my hours at school, especially this year as it is my matric year. I use the conversations I have with my friends, classmates, and school acquaintances to inspire my writing. Through these conversations, I have learned that everyone has a story to tell. We all hold some sort of gem that the world should get to see.
After finding inspiration, I write my thoughts down. But the thing is, I don’t have the luxury of owning a laptop. That doesn’t stop me from writing though, it’s 2019 for crying out loud! Cellphones are extremely smart and are at our disposal. And so, I write using my phone.
I only have a very limited time to write – due to school – during the day and then have house chores when I get home. Because of this, I write at night while most people are watching their prime time TV shows, I am typing away on my phone.
This method worked for me, but I read somewhere that if you want to write something sincerely and feel every word, you must write it down — putting pen to paper. Since I read this I have been using this technique and I love it. Every word is thought of carefully. No more getting assistance from the autocorrect from this advanced keyboard.
Every word I write is straight from the vocabulary bank in my head. I think that it helps because I can see my growth and development, as far as vocabulary goes.
When I started writing, I was making a mistake that many young writers make. I was checking for mistakes in my writing before I even finished putting all my thoughts down. This is bad because now you find yourself multi-tasking: thinking, writing, and editing. This can cause you to lose track of your thoughts, and your writing won’t be the same. Some useful information will be left out and the direction of your writing piece will be lost.
It was through FunDza that I learned the skill of freestyling, which is to not stop writing once you have an idea. By not stopping, I am practically collecting materials for building. When done ‘collecting’, then that’s when I can pick which materials I want to use for the story. You can’t choose before you finish collecting because then you will miss out on some of the things you could have collected.
When I am writing I often like to give myself breaks. I have noticed that I can write very well in the beginning, but as I go on, I get tired and lazy. So giving yourself a break, even after writing as little as two paragraphs, is imperative. If you give yourself some time to rest, the next time you write you will have a fresh mind to choose the right words so your image can be painted as you initially imagined it.
Another technique I use to help my writing is by rewarding myself with music after I finish a page. This removes any pressure that might be hanging over my head. I push myself and after doing so, I listen to music to give myself a relaxing break. As a result, writing becomes fun and it doesn’t feel like a chore.
I think of writers as athletes of words. Some are running marathons: writers who take their time producing their books, essays and articles. Then there are those who are running sprints: these are ones who write at a fast pace and produce stories extremely quickly. So, as a writer, I believe you have to know which kind of athlete you are.
The most important thing that I know about me and my writing is that I don’t make excuses and I make time for my craft. When it is time for writing, then it is time for writing. I always set a goal for me to accomplish every week; if I say I will finish a chapter by Friday, I will force myself to finish it. That is one thing that I know and I respect myself for. I think it’s important that while I’m writing I respect myself and my work.
One issue I run into sometimes is that I am lazy to do research. If a story requires me to conduct an interview, or observe a particular place, I will make excuses not to go. Instead, I end up writing what I think I would have seen, felt or sensed if was there, which makes my writing harder because I have to make things up. Research gives a writer a base for their story. Regardless of the genre, a sense of reality appeals to readers.
To all the writers out there who don’t know how to start writing, but have crazy and cool stories in their heads, my advice is to always carry a notepad and a pen with you. Whenever inspiration strikes, you start freestyling and you will edit and polish later. I have a notepad that is my draft factory for my ideas. Using this technique has helped me to win FunDza competitions two times in a row.
Keep on reading and by so doing, your skills of writing will be greatly sharpened. I will leave you with a quote from Barbara Kingsolver, “There is no perfect time to write. There’s only now.”
Tell us: What is your writing style?