How To Write To Learn (And Just For The Heck Of It)

 

funny-old-Shakespeare-painting
This guy was NEVER afraid of a writing challenge…you shouldn’tbe either!

 

What’s going on inside my head this Wednesday?
 
After a few days of goofing off, it’s time to get “techinical” again…time for another Writer’s Update Wednesday!
 
(Yeah, I thought about doing a “Weird News Wednesday” instead, but we’ve had enough slacking off, haven’t we slackers?)
 
I know, me neither! 😉
 
Nevertheless though, I’ve gotta do it.

No, I don’t have another personal…ish video up for you, like I did last week, but if you’d like to do that instead of reading the following stuff in this post, you can go check out LAST week’s book/poetry video and PRETEND like I put up a new one. 😛

Today though, I want to briefly discuss something that sometimes comes up with writers. I’m going to tell you a quick little secret about writing, and it may shock you a little, but it’s also true….
 
Not everything you write HAS TO leadsomewhere.
 
(shhh!! I know, scary, but just go with it!! 😉 lol )
 
Yeah yeah, I hear you asking, “But Jimmy, I’ve heard my whole life as a writer that I should be writing all the time, working all the time, and-and-and what’s the point of doing ALL THAT WORK if it’s not going to DO ANYTHING for me??”
 
Okay, first off, stop stuttering inside your head. I’m just a blog voice on your computer, there’s nuthin’ to be skeered of…and that’s WAAAY too many and’s. 😛 😀
 
In the second place, I never said it wasn’t going to do anything for you, I SAID it might not lead anywhere big, but that in of itself doesn’t mean that it CAN’T lead anywhere big, or that, say, that blog you ramble in daily about everything in, has no worth.
 
In fact-to-mondo, (like that new descriptical I just made up?? Too bad 😛 lol ) that’s the whole point of this post…that sometimes writing in of itself offers you unexpected benefits and “rewards” that may not immediately come to mind…uhh…immediately. 🙂
 
Writing is, to begin with, the process of thinking. The more you write, the more you think, the more you think, the less likely you are to watch things like Honey Boo Boo. So writing cures you of the need to watch Honey Boo Boo, go writing! 😉 LOL
 
But seriously, when you write and have to use your mind often, it does have added value to your life and health. It will inevitably increase your vocabulary, and as that increases, so to will your creativity. Naturally, some people also find writing, again, going back to the “daily journal” thing to be cathartic/therapeutic for their psyche.
 
I’d say these benefits are fairly superficial and obvious. Even those who HATE to write, would likely acknowledge those!
 
But on a deeper/technical/sausage-making-process/slash, (because I was going to add something else to this long analogy and now I forgot what it was 😉 ) side of writing, you can also learn/practice lots of new skills by attempting to write in new formats.
 
What do I mean? Well, for example, screenplays. I was just commenting in a writer’s support group site I visit about the process of “scene selection” that is, taking your work and breaking it up into scenes. No matter what type of fiction/story-telling format you use, learning to write/experimenting with writing a screenplay can only HELP you along in that process.
 
Because the style sheet/formatting on a screenplay is so clear between scenes and various elements in the story, attempting to write one, just for the heck of it, can be a valuable “experience” that will aide you with the rest of your work. You’ll start to learn how to transition from scene to scene better, even in a novel, how to make your dialogue “punchier” and have more “zing” with fewer words, all by just writing a screenplay.
 
Sure, you may THINK your first screenplay attempt (or seventieth 😀 lol ) is an atrocious piece of shite mess deluxe on rye with cheese, but the lessons you learned there can be applied elsewhere and are invaluable. You can only grow as a writer by attempting one….so even if in the end you think it SUUUUCKS beyond repair, you can take the feather-for-your-cap of “wisdom” to your other writing projects.
 
How about a limerick? A sonnet??
 
Yeaap, these seem boring as all hell at first, but trying your hand at penning a poem with a specific rhyming/syllable/rule scheme can teach you the value of “discipline” in your work…and expand your mind and vocabulary as well….duuuuuude. Blow your mind! B)
 
Ever thought about writing a stage play?
 
Stage plays have a specific “jargon” stage directions/notes, etc, that it might be handy to know a little something about, and you can learn best by DOING (through acting or writing a play.) Stage plays are, obviously a highly visual process, so writing one can teach you the value of making your words more “visual-friendly.” It’ll also help in teaching you to write dialogue that is more than readable, but, easily “sayable” as well. Because what the heck good is that really fantastic pun-y turn-of-phrase you wrote if the actor can’t say the damn thing without tripping over their tongue, and it ends up being ad-libbed out of the show half the time?
 
How about trying your hand at joke writing, if you haven’t already? You think it’s easy being funny? You think it isn’t an art? Just try writing a five minute “stand-up set” sometime, see how far into it you get.
 
Like putting down the schlock of sitcoms and that other TV writers put out there? Go ahead and take a stab at writing a few episodes of your own TV series. Doesn’t matter if you’re no one famous or if it’ll never see air, just do it and see if the “quality” of your shows’ seasonal writing can last for 13-plus episodes.
 
You can learn a lot about long-term “pacing” and “story-arching” by attempting to pen your own shows.
 
In closing here, the point isn’t to say you HAVE TO “branch out” as a writer. I mean, if your thing happens to be comedy, or you want to be a mystery novelist, or just a part-time blogger and you never want to be published anywhere else, then fine, you don’t have to become the writing version of a “renaissance man.”
 
I’m only suggesting that as a confirmed curious writer and aspiring “pen of all trades” myself, I’ve learned important lessons from trying my hand at many different kinds of wordsmithery, lessons that I probably would not have gotten anywhere else. Even the most somber horror/mystery novelist can learn a thing or two by studying comedy a little, and a literary clown can learn how to make their “yucks” count more with an occasional spice of seriousness.
 
When you experiment with different forms of writing, you learn balance…and this can only be good for your work in the long.
 
Writers learn by doing, not by swooning new literary challenges.
 
Challenge yourself…you might be surprised how far you get!
 
I welcome your comments. Happy Wednesday, friends and neighbors. 🙂
 
When it comes to the pen, he’s never afraid of a challenge,
 
 
J. Devious, ESQ.
 
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One thought on “How To Write To Learn (And Just For The Heck Of It)

  1. You should have put “Who Will Hear My Scream” as an example of your screenplay and link to it. It’s still up there.

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