90% Perspiration Comes Later

Written By: jOakes

Don’t hold back. Successful writing is certainly about being able to draw in, and please, a reader — but the most important thing is to draw *yourself* in. Let’s say you are writing a memoir about your family. It may seem that in order for somebody to truly appreciate your book, they must already be familiar with your family, or at least know about them — at least know *of* them. In actuality, in order for people to know and learn about your family they must first appreciate your book. They must trust your words. And as the writer of the memoir, you must trust the truth. Not only is truth stranger than fiction; if anything, the truth has to be toned down, there’s just so much of it. So plentiful is unvarnished reality, you can’t possibly squeeze it all into your work. Your job, then, is to cut and paste reality as (only) you see it. Varnish it where needed. Never be afraid to begin the process with an unflinching rawness. Ideally you will want to keep the spirit of that rawness even as you revise.

Initially I would suggest some old-fashioned creative discipline. Promise yourself that you will write a paragraph a day — but make it a time for self-discovery, not just an appointment with your keyboard. Vow to learn something new about yourself — or to surprise yourself — every time you write. Often, writing must begin as a result of adhered-to self-discipline; but once you get started, it becomes easier to sustain that pace. It might even be hard to stop!

Try to write in a way that describes the scene in visual detail — right down to the hairbrush on the dresser. You’re writing a movie; and the lens is your choice of words.

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