Archive for March 20th, 2009

Anyone can write does not mean that you take it lightly. Writing, is not just about stringing two words together. Like any other craft it needs persistence and constant sharpening.

How does one do that? It is a bit obvious really.

1. Write: Again, like any other craft, practice is of paramount importance. You must write, write and write. Even when you don’t feel like it. The popular comedian Jerry Seinfeld says that he writes for at least forty minutes every morning, whether he feels funny or not.

When there are no deadlines imposed on you, you tend to take it a little easy. Writers, as a lot, are notoriously indisciplined. I myself am wont to be lazy. Therefore, I impose a strict schedule on myself.

The first thing I do when I get up, yes even before my morning ablutions, is switch on my computer. Yup! I tumble out of bed straight onto my desk. Then I write for at least fifteen minutes. It doesn’t have to be gems. It can mundane, everyday things, even your shopping list or things to do that day.

But what this exercise achieves is that it clears your mind of useless rubbish and prepares you for constructive work ahead. Often times when I’m stuck while writing a screenplay or a book, I use this time to bounce off ideas. Usually by doing this, I get a clear way forward.

But more importantly, the more you write, the better you get at it. You acquire a facility with words and structure and your writing becomes sharper and more focused. You are bound to expend less time in wandering around and writing stuff that you’ll only have to throw out later.

Also begin with the end in mind. You may not know how the story begins but you must always know how it ends. You don’t hop on a train without a destination in mind do you? It’s the same way with writing.

2. Read and watch: Read widely and deeply. Read anything. Experts usually say read only quality stuff, but I disgaree. In my opinion, one must read anything and everything. You will always take away something even from trashy pulp fiction, even if it’s a ‘how not to.’

Similarly with films. Watch everything even if it is nonsense. Subhash Ghai’s “Yaadein’ is a study in how not to make a film.

I do understand where experts are coming from. If your reading is trash, your writing will be too. After all we all have muses, writers who inspire us to write and whom we try to emulate, albeit in our own style.

In my opinion learn to distinguish between the two. If you’re reading trash, know that you’re reading trash. Also don’t read and watch only trash.

Read as a writer. If there’s something you like, a scene or incident, try to figure out why you like it? What has the author done that appeals to you so much? How has he/she constructed the scene? What is the beginning, middle and end? What are the highpoints of the writing? what is the imagery used? What turn of phrases do you like?

Read the masters. Read Graham Greene, John Steinbeck, Ian McEwan. Read Loius L’Amour if you like westerns. There are so many good writers out there. If you are a screenplay writer, download as many screenplays as you can and read them. You can download screenplays for free from Drew’s script-o-Rama.

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