We often ask how to become a good writer, how to write well. What are the best writing tips that one should follow? What are the secret ingredients that make the words come alive? Write the stories touch the hearts those who read it. Make them laugh. Make them cry. Make them feel all the emotions that you put in the words. A piece of your heart, a part of your soul.
As a result, we search for this elixir everywhere, in books, and in workshops. In the works of the writing legends. In their stories, in their memoirs. And in the self-help articles that tell you what great writing comprises of. The internet if full of such articles – “how to write well”, “how to write like a pro” are a couple among the thousands of such articles.
But like the students of one fable who when asked by the teacher to find the flower of a rare species, looked everywhere but the very place where they lived – we are looking at the wrong place, if we are searching for it outsides. For writing is a very personal activity, something that originates within us, in our thoughts and in the deepest recess of our sub-conscious.
The Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rike offered on this subject – which I think is one of the best writing tips ever.
Nobody can counsel and help you, nobody. There is only one single way. Go into yourself. Search for the reason that bids you write; find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places of your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write.
This thought is also echoed in the heart touching reply by Kurt Vonnegut to the letters by school kids about why they should follow any art.
Writing, like other modes of communication, has traits which is common, and some others which is unique to it. Unlike speaking, writing arises from a combination of our conscious thinking and sub-conscious elements that are at play without ever thinking. It is when we sit and write and give ourselves completely to this act that the true writing emerges.
As a result, what it also means that the right question, to ask, is not “How to write?” but “Why to write?” What is it that motivates you to right? What is it about writing that forces you to ditch a hundred things that you could be doing? And also there are movies to watch, games to play, parties to attend, friends to talk. In this age of instant connectivity the question becomes even more pertinent.
The Facebook and the Instagram are only a touch away. And so are the videos and memes which can occupy us for hours in a day without us even realizing. So then why we ditch all these instant modes of gratification and sit for hours, alone, in a silent corner and torture ourselves?
So, if you can answer this and are willing to give up the distractions, you are already a writer. The rest will come by doing it, by performing the act.