We are lucky enough to have another guest writer this week . Jenny Knipfer lays out her views on all things writing. I find it interesting to read about the different obstacles that are overcome and created as one improves as a writer. I am sure many of you will relate to the following piece. As a novice, it gives me a great insight into what is to come if I can keep at it! – Louis
Who is a writer. The simple definition: anyone who writes. The complicated meaning: those who have a passel of experience, educated legitimacy, published work, or some esteem in the literary world. I fall somewhere in between those two extremes.
I read a book years ago on writing called, The Right to Write, by Julia Cameron, which I found to be an excellent and encouraging work. In it Julia puts forth that inherently we all have “the right to write.” Writing is not only for the elite, the super educated, the famous, or the geniuses. Writing belongs to humanity. We all desire to express ourselves. To know and to be known exist as human needs. Writing – the act of recording our thoughts and feelings for our eyes and others to see and comprehend – nests at the heart of what it means to be human. You are a writer.
Why do I write? Because the words are in me. Because I must. A period of time existed when I couldn’t, and it trapped me, choked me, and almost killed my spirit. If these thoughts and stories cannot break free from my cerebral cortex they become lodged in my heart like hopeless hope—a winged creature dead at my feet.
For me, writing always starts there. It springs from a real place of desired freedom, of release. If I encourage, inspire, challenge, or entertain others with my words, it makes me happy, but even if no one ever read my thoughts, I would still write.
What does it mean to write? Is it merely the act of transferring letters and words in a meaningful way to something which can be read. The importance behind writing stems from our thoughts fueling the letters, words, sentences, paragraphs, and chapters . . .
I write to extend a part of me to the page, tablet, or computer screen. It both startles and frees me to see what exists in my mind. These words and ideas come from me—my mind, my heart, my experiences, and my imagination.
When did I and do I write? Anywhere and everywhere. In the past and in the present. I wrote before I knew what I was doing. (Don’t get me wrong, I still have a lot to learn.) As the years trailed by, I learned from formal education, my own study, pleasure reading, and from practice.
Writing sails along like most things in life, but you have to first know the rules before you can bend them. Years of playing the piano taught me that. After much time learning musical rules, my real voice and heart came out in all of its raw beauty when I set the peramiters and sheet music aside and played from my soul.
I am no Mozart or Shakespeare, and I understand everything must have boundaries. Writing needs good bones, but writing encompasses more than rules just as music does.
Creative writing equates to art, which can be subjective. The eyes of the beholder may or may not recognize beauty when it comes to the written word. We embrace or disfavor an author based on their style, voice, ability to masterly weave a story, and sometimes by how well or not they follow the rules. The rules again, sigh. I’ve placed some of my favorite authors of yesterday aside because I know more now. I can’t read a work riddled with the same weak structure I strive to eradicate in my own writing. I want to read books on par with where I believe I’ve grown to as a writer. Gosh, that sentence sounds a bit conceited, but so be it. I desire to attain the best route in which to take my readers, not the laziest.
Lately, I’ve started reading quite a bit of what I call “lazy writing.” Lazy may not be a fair term to use. Uninformed may be more correct. I committed this litany of writing no-nos before I learned better: too much generalization, passive sentences structure, weak verb use, and an alphabet soup of unnecessary words. Perhaps I commit some taboo writing deed in my work now? I hope not, but I strive to keep learning; I am a writer but a writer in process.
I’ve soaked in so many helpful writing practices of late. I’ll leave my thoughts on writing with the following general and specific writing exercise which I have found to be fruitful.
As people we often converse in general terms. For example, “The sunset painted the sky beautiful.” “My day ended well.” The words beautiful and well tell us little or nothing as a reader. They are too broad, overused, and have become meaningless. A reader needs specific words to inhabit the world you, as an author, create for them.
A general sentence, which happens to be a metaphor: Creative writing is artistic.
A specific, tangible explanation: Creative writing paints a picture for a reader whose senses can only be vicariously experienced through the written word. The reader lives, breathes, hears, sees, smells, and feels because of the words you craft as a writer and an author. When you write, you create a world of images for another person to see and experience. As a writer: you seam the words together like scraps of colorful fabric to piece a quilt; you erect a structure of imaginative building blocks for another soul to walk upon; you shape and craft a boat for the reader to sail from their life into your character’s; you conjure new worlds, people, places, and circumstances for readers to visit. As a writer, you translate to more than an artist. You become an architect, a cartographer, a quilter, a healer, a builder of vehicles, a magician etc. . .
I encourage you to practice this. Start or end a paragraph with a generalization, but give meaty specifics either before or following.
Where am I as a writer? Perpetually in the classroom, as I believe we all should be. I work at my craft. I practice. I listen. I learn. This year I’ve learned how to write with an active voice and avoid passive sentence structure. “What’s this?” Read my thoughts on a passive voice here.
My challenge to you . . . Rewrite this post in your own words. Describe your, “who, what, why, when, and where” of writing and what these each mean to you.
Blessings on your journey.
You can find more about, and get in contact with, Jenny at any of the links below!