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Ink Poisoning

30 April 2013

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I got an email after yesterday’s post (where I talked about training, whether it’s training to write, do stand-up comedy, or go fight someone) asking me how someone should train to write.

As I’ve said before, I can’t tell you what to do, or what might work for you. I can only tell you what I do, and you can try it out if you like.

But with that disclaimer, there is one thing that’s universal: you train to write by writing.

A lot.

If you want to be a writer, write every chance you get. I jot shit down on my iPhone, on Post-It notes, and (unfortunately) on my arms. If I have an idea, I write it down somewhere. I’m fortunate enough to have a better-than-average visual memory, so once I write something down, I rarely need to look at it again… but the aphorism holds true. Write every chance you get.

When I first got back into writing, it helped me to set a word goal. In 2009, I committed to writing no less than 500 words a night, no matter what else was going on in my life. I posted everything I wrote on Twitter, because that kept me accountable… and just like that, I got back into the habit of writing. I was training to write.

Also, I try to maximize and prioritize my brain time. Brain cycles that could be spent zoning out in traffic or reading magazine covers in line at Target (and there’s always a line at the Target by my house) get re-tasked to thinking about story problems, character development, and dinner (I do like to eat, after all). But I try to convert idle time into productive time where I can. This includes places like the gym, or lunch breaks at work.

Apart from saying “write a lot,” though, I really can’t give much productive advice on how to train yourself to be a writer… though maybe you folks can in the comments?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. 30 April 2013 1404

    I don’t like to give advice myself either because everyone is different and it is up to the individual to find what works. But, as you’ve already said, writing is the best way to get better. I would say reading too and analyzing what you’re reading: what the author did right, what the author did wrong, what you liked and why, what you didn’t like and why; plot; theme; structure; ect.

    • 30 April 2013 1817

      I’d personally agree with that. I do know one guy — a screenwriter — who claims to never read books. I don’t see how that could work, but he does OK. I know he studies the hell out of film, though, so maybe it’s a similar deal?

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