Getting started as a budding writer

24 Apr, 2020 - 00:04 0 Views
Getting started as a budding writer

The Chronicle

Christopher Mlalazi

When the initial 21-day Covid-19 lockdown started on March 30 to counter the infection in the country, I announced a creative writing challenge on Facebook for budding writers so that they can use it as an opportunity to refine their craft, instead of just sitting at home and doing nothing.

My role in this challenge, as a published writer, is to inspire as well as offer tips on how one can push their craft further, for, after all, those with experience in any occupation always have a trick or two up their sleeve to offer those who are still starting.

True to the analogy that one can take a horse to a river but you can’t make it drink, and so in the challenge I offer to take the budding writer to that river, but you will do your own drinking, or rather, your own writing, as I won’t be able to hold your pen over your notebook for you.

For those who have not seen my initial tips on Facebook, which I am posting as a linear weekly series, what we have covered so far in them is how the budding writer can get started, how to find a writing space, and the last one was on how to steer your story idea into a continuous and coherent concept after carving it out of scattered ideas.

In this, be mindful of that I am sharing how I conceive and write my own stories, and so far it has worked for me – but be also aware that every writer has their own strategy on how to approach writing a story, so anything, if it works for you, is fine, as long as it produces the ultimate goal – a story that readers can salivate over.

Creative writing is a noble art, this I won’t hesitate to declare, and so, dear budding writer, by partaking in this craft, you are participating in the highest form of meditation and purified thought, which is a celebration of any nations’ cultural heritage and its aesthetics, so this writer declares too.

I hope I am not using lofty language that is difficult to follow, as the aim of the writer is to be understood, rather than leave people scratching their heads in confusion and thinking what in god’s sake is this person talking about.

Now to get on with our lockdown writing challenge, which we said its intention is for you to keep within the safety of the gate during this necessary lockdown, and also either write a full short story, or work on one you have already started.

You don’t have to finish the story during the lockdown, you can do that later, but the point is that you must start something. It’s also okay to thrash out an idea in your head that you can write later too.

And so there you are, you have found your writing space where no one can disturb you, you have allocated a certain time in the day as your writing period, maybe one or two hours, you have hit on a good idea to write about, and you have actually started writing it down – here is something crucial: How do you keep on writing day after day until the resolution?

This might sound like a simple question, but it really is an important one, as I have seen some writers to be writing one or two paragraphs, and then for some unknown reason giving up and throwing the story idea away.

The answer is also very simple. It’s all about belief. You have to believe what you are writing about, even if its fiction.

Yes we write fiction stories, about things that have never happened, and which some people might call lies. Well, some people might call fiction stories lies, but that is what entertainment is all about. We entertain with fictionalised realities. It didn’t happen, but it is happening in my story, and you better believe it – this is the silent message you must be projecting to the future reader of your story as you are busy writing, and what this means is that you have to be at your best to make that fiction sound real, and this is where skill comes in.

Believe in that story you are hammering out from the word go up to the last paragraph. Envision it in your mind as something living. This also calls for a cinematic mind, one that can see the story almost as a movie while you are writing it.

Every sentence must be evocative, it must have the power to bring strong messages or memories, and it must be beautiful.

If you are able to go into this trance as you are writing, then you are already the great writer that you are dreaming to be one day when your story gets the chance to be published.

And so for this edition of the Lockdown Creative Writing Challenge we will end here, and hopefully we will be continuing with this engagement next week.
Stay home, stay safe, and stay writing!

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