“We will have a chance to ask writer Benjamin Percy a few questions about his stories we have been reading next class time” our teacher told us. I’m exhausted. I have more writing than I can do this week but I’m not tired enough to not be excited. I am going to meet a writer!!!!!!! One that actually gets pays and has a full-time job as a writer! I had started doubting if people like that really existed or if they were only in stories!
He gave us a lot of interesting things to think about that would help us as a writer:
Tip #1: Always Be Ready For IdeasHe said that he would always carry around index cards in his pocket so that he could jot down the random ideas that would come to him. Now he uses the notes app on his iPhone. Either way, it’s the same concepts: right down the little ideas that come to you and capture them. “Ideas definitely have an expiration date” he said, so it’s important to get them down when you first get them. “But don’t immediately write them down as a person is saying them,” he warned, “otherwise they’ll stop. I was once at a cocktail party once where I went to the bathroom at least 5 times to get the good things people were saying down before I would forget them….once person even asked me if I was really feeling well.” He said that writers always need to be open for business.
*Another Good Idea:He also has a cork board by his desk that is filled with his potential stories. Articles from magazines or newspapers, a few of his index cards, they’re all building blocks that he will work with when he is trying to sit down and right a story. He says that every so often a few will seem to pop out and click, and there, you have a story. He “reads the newspaper like a poacher…I am interested in what is gong on but also what I can take as a writer.”
*Tip 2: Explore your writing style. He said that as an earlier writer his style would change to whichever one he had read the latest and sometimes he’s met students who haven’t read so that their style doesn’t get effected. He exclaimed “that’s the point!” Like Painters who learn from mimic, you will slowly take from a variety of professionals and create your own specific style, but he warns that this takes literally thousands of hours. For now, developing and exploring that style is crucial.
*Tip 3: Don’t be afraid to kill the darling. He looked at us saying, “I know that you guys don’t write. You have 8 classes, work at the pizza place, and probably play lacrosse, not to mention Facebook distractions. Everything you write right now, is because you have to. It’s all things that are assigned and every moment of your time is precious [amen to that!!] and you probably have a hard time revising your writing because it’s your writing. ‘I wrote that sentence!’ but as a writer you have to let go. You have to be willing to ‘kill your darling'”. He went on to talk about the years that every author has spent on those failed novels. He says that he learned incredibly valuable experiences from all of those and it’s important to remember that. “If I had to take out a hundred pages, I’d be mad for about 2 hours and then I would be fine” he said, demonstrating how much he has learned to write. I was in shock. 100 pages?!?!?!?! That’s my entire novel!
He also talked about finding your own personal method at writing a book, some people are the organic writers that let their story grow and cultivate it as needed, moving things around while he is more the lego writer. Getting many of the pieces and then clicking them together.
Hugely helpful tip: He took like ten feet of paper and mapped out his entire novel before he even started writing. It really helps there not be story gaps. I think that’s genius! I have a story that has gaps and holes all over and whenever I move a piece of the story over to cover one gap there’s something somewhere else! It’s driving me crazy! So I’m going to try this…once I start writing again. Because he’s right. I do have like a million things to do and right now, I’m only writing for classes.
So, I have this renewed excitement about why I’m doing what I’m doing:) I want to be a writer! I want to be an author!