A couple of months a friend came to my house. He is a college friend and lived in the same city. But as it often happens when we get busy in our lives, it had been a long time since we met in person. From his face, I could tell that he wanted to say something. But being shy was not able to bring himself to talk about the subject he came to talk about. I didn’t rush him either, and let him take his own time.
In time he revealed about a girl in his office that he really liked. It had been a couple of months since she had joined the office and he had fallen at once for her. Now the tricky part was that the girl was committed and he could do nothing about it. He is a smart chap and I knew that he would not do something stupid either, so I was not very sure what he came to talk about.
To give him time to think I offered to make tea for him and walked into the kitchen. The next ten minutes gave him time and courage to form his thoughts and when I returned I could see a resolve on his face.
“Can you do me a favor?” he asked as he sipped tea. I smiled and nodded my head.
“I want you to publish this for me.”
From his pocket, he pulled out a paper neatly folded twice and handed it to me. “I wrote it,” he said softly, “about that girl. Publish it anonymously on your blog. It’s like an anonymous confession. I like to think one day she’ll read it.”
I was touched by the gesture.
And more so I knew that he was not good at creative writing. In fact, in college, he had hated writing or reading novels. So I wasn’t expecting much from his writing. But the gesture bowled me over.
That night as I slipped into my bed and read his write up, I was surprised at how well his writing felt. Yes, there were crafting issues. But the words which were written came directly from his heart, and it compensated more than enough for his lack of experience in writing.
This experience revealed a very fundamental secret of writing that we often forget. And that is the best advice about writing.
As a species, we want to hear the truth. We want someone to peel the layers of the drudgery of our lives and present to us the essence of our lives. When we read (or hear) that truth it makes us feel appreciated, a piece of our lives appreciated, and we feel connected to a bigger whole.
That’s the secret of good writing. It is not about esoteric words or plot trickery. Nor it is about elegant prose. Yes, the best writings have some part of it. But what really makes a good piece of writing good is its ability to present in plain & simple terms the truth about life. The best writings go beyond anything else and present to our life, mundane and usual, in a way that makes us see all of it in a new light.
You want to write, write the truth that you know. About the little things from your childhood. The moments you really felt and even now remember it. It is the best advice to write well.
Start with your family vacations. What you did and how you felt. Which places you visited. How you felt when you stood on a cliff and the mountain wind slapped your face. And then when the clouds gathered and suddenly it started pouring and all of you — your parents, siblings, cousins ran for the cover. But we’re already drenched by the time you found shelter. And how you all laughed mimicking each other’s expression.
Or write about how you felt when you kissed for the first time. Don’t write about the physical act (don’t make it a porn) but write about the moments before that kiss happen. When your heart beat wildly against your chest in anticipation. When every other sound drowned out. When you knew that it could happen, any moment. And so strong was the force of this emotion that it felt that as if time had slowed down and every second felt as if it was a lifetime.
This is real writing. Writing about truth.
The story, the characters, the twists — all these happen around this truth — this kernel of writing. It is what that will make someone stop everything else and read what you have written. And whenever you do that, whenever you write the truth, you always find someone who could relate to it. And that’s the purpose of writing. To make people feel, related and get lost in the world within your words.
Read more stories & advices on writing here
Find recommendations on books on writing HERE. (at the end of the post)
Also published on Medium.