Thursday, October 30, 2008
Advice for Writers
Last Friday at the "Power of the Pen" awards for teenage writers, the assembled young authors and wannabes were addressed by Dana Robbins, the current editor of the Hamilton Spectator. In his speech he stressed a number of simple ways to help oneself develop as a writer. They are almost identical with the advice I press on younger poets. He urged them to follow these actions:
Write. No matter what, no matter how good or bad, satifying or not, by putting words down in an order determined by yourself you become a writer. Write fiction, non-fiction, letters, emails. Keep a journal. Blog.
Read. Read anything you can; you are not doing this to learn anything specific, but to keep yourself immersed in the written word. You may want to read in your favourite category, be it poetry, fiction, non-fiction, or other, but be sure to spend just as much time and effort on the others. Read what you don't care for. Read newspapers, tabloid mags, cereal boxes but read. Even the bad stuff. Tell yourself "I can do better than that!" and then do it.
Observe. The world you live in provides the basis for your thoughts and ideas, and therefore your writings. If you close your eyes and mind, you deny yourself much of the life you should be living. Watch people. Watch the intricacies of nature as things grow and change. Observe the details. These will become the subjects and objects of your written sentences.
Robbins presented several more but these were the three most important to my experience. It never hurts to reiterate them.