Writing

2/19/1990

 

Writing . . .

 

These are just my ideas about writing. No one has to agree with them. Probably I won’t agree myself!

Like anything else, writing is best done—and done best—if you want to do it . . . and feel like doing it. It’s a tough row if you are trying to write to meet a deadline, or because you feel you “should” do it, or for any number of other reasons.

I find it easier when I am trying to express a thought or an idea that is scrambling around in my mind (like now).

I find it most difficult when I decide I should be writing something.

I’m not talking about sitting around waiting for “inspiration.” That is a very amateurish idea. A professional writer must write, and when he is dealing with a defined subject, then he works at the craft of writing.

I do not mean to say for a moment that you should write only when you feel like it.

And, of course, the subject and the purpose help determine the circumstances about which I speak.

You must know your subject through experience or research.

Like in anything else, we do best what we enjoy doing.

And, as with many other crafts or talents, practice makes a great deal of difference. We should improve with practice and experience.

Do it!

There are many types and forms of writing. The writer can work in a few or in many of them. That’s petty much up to the writer, I guess.

You can argue for specializing and perfecting your talents in a few, or for spreading your talent to many. Who is to say about that? Pretty much an individual choice, I’d say. Again—go where your interest takes you. Follow the wandering star of your desire.

Write it as you see it and as you feel it. Keep it genuine. The reader is difficult to deceive. Usually he knows (it shows!) when the writing is skirting the edge of fact or feeling.

-2-

Likewise, it shows through when the writer knows his subject and is dealing with it honestly.

A writer must be honest or very clever.

Sound advice to a writer once heard: “Do not use everything you know about the subject. Leave the reader with the impression there is even more.”

Credibility and the reader’s acceptance and enjoyment are the only keys a writer has for getting back through the door to the reader another time.

“Clever” is fine if you are clever. If you are not, and you try to be, it is worse than just “not clever.”

Play it straight. Be what and who you are. Whether or not you are popular or entertaining (as determined by someone else) you can be honest (determined by you) and that’s no small change in life’s cash register.

There are plenty of clever writers around. We always can use more honest ones.

So–what do we mean by honest writing?

I’m not talking about not lying to the reader. Purposeful deceit usually is rather apparent to a reader with any common sense. There is enough information around for comparison—depending, of course, on the subject.

Be honest. I mean first of all—be honest with yourself. Again, depending on subject, it is true in most cases that advocating a particular point of view limits the writer in his approach and coverage of the subject.

That’s OK if that is all he sees. Then he is reporting from a particular perspective—not necessarily “slanting” the information.

The reader deserves all the available information. He is capable of deciding for himself what he will favor or disapprove.

A writer is not honest with himself when he is censoring the information he is processing in order to sell a particular idea. And an astute reader (of which there a too few!) generally will know this.

I am not advocating spotlighting “all the warts.” But if they are there, let them show.

-3-

Right here let’s recognize that there is legitimate “white-wash and advocacy writing. Everybody is selling something. But honesty requires that it be recognized as such and not passed off as “unbiased” and both sides of the subject.

Anyway, I was speaking of honesty of the writer, and that goes even deeper.

This involves the writer’s approach to the subject and his attitude toward the reader. The honest writer wants and tries to see all the information. And he tries to give the reader as complete a coverage as he can.

I seem to be concerned here with reporting. How about fiction, or poetry, or an essay. Still room for honesty, I believe.

Let’s have the writer’s honest feelings—not an artificial or sensationalized, or commercialized approach.

Have to think more about this.

 

#

 

 

 

Advertisements