These are the things I usually say to mentor writers and students.
1. Find your self. Writing is self-discovery, discovering what are your deepest convictions, your inner message, your values, your passions, your fears, all of which, even when it’s not conscious to you, will come out subconsciously in your writing.
2. Read, study, research a lot. Expand your intellectual capacity and knowledge. A wide girth of material. Oscar Wilde once asked his teacher why he had books about economy and so on on his table. Anything that pertains to humanity and human beings relates to literature. I study literature and the major in fact is a cumulative experience of all of history, different schools of philosophical thought, movement of the arts, social commentary, the look into the human condition and the development of the intellectual mind…. and onwards. Everything is interconnected. Literature is the pinnacle of the WORLD. It is the language that we speak, the language we think in, a language entire societies and civilizations are built on. Read and research and study not only fiction, but non-fiction of all subjects. Expand your horizons and material from which you draw
3. Find solitude and quiet. Some place that inspires you or calms you. Some place comfortable. Everyone has their own places. Meditate on your own soul, your own self. Empty your mind and seek an inner peace and relaxation.
4. Consciously think alot. Plan your work, while you’re not writing or needing meditation. Live your work, and think through the frame of your project, so that all interactions in life, and every moment of your daily life begins to take on new meaning and a new perspective. Your observation skills and small details will begin to stick out and relate themselves intricately with your work.
5. Before writing, examine, meditate on and study your favourite author or the author that is closest to your style. I read a few pages of Murakami to soak in his words, his mood, and so on. It sets me into the mood of writing and being in the moment, and also because his style is so close to mine, and his style is something i aspire to as well, it is like being in harmony with myself.
6. When you write, don’t think. All that you’ve researched, meditated on, thought of and planned consciously, is the foundation and the pool from which you draw. Let it bleed subconsciously when you write. Everything comes into play and will converge into powerful words through your finger tips.
7. Treat it as your full time job and just write. There are no such things as writer’s blocks. There are moments of down time and lack of motivation or inspiration, but it is just that. There are many factors that might cause a lapse. Physical fatigue, stress from other responsibilities, emotional tension with other people, being in one place or indoors for too long, or having exhausted your mind too much already, etc, there are all kinds of factors. Every aspect of life relates. But it’s exactly that! It has nothing to do with your ability to write, your skills, your inspiration or not. There are things that just drain you or takes away from your creative spirit. That’s fine, everyone goes through that. But as such, I’ve never had an issue with writing. I sit down and focus, push aside everything else, and force myself to write. Write a word, a few sentences, eventually a paragraph, eventually thousands of words. I set a goal, and had a quota of at least 1000 words per day and often surpassed that, because I concentrated and made it happen. Perseverance and Determination.
8. Develop your skills outside of your writing time. Why we worry about not creating quality writing or being in the zone is because we lack confidence in our BASE skill. We should work towards the point where no matter what state we are in, how tired, how unmotivated, etc, any crude improvisation that we write is still good. I think through years of practice and close observation and study, my writing has grown to the point where I am somewhat confident. No matter what state I am, when I force myself to write, it will be alright. You can always edit after anyway. But yes, the training doesn’t happen only when you really want to write. It needs to come from all the aspects I’ve mentioned above, and your writing skill should be improved to that point, and then when you need to write, it is a subconscious act where you aren’t held back. It’s like singing. Vocal techniques should be good enough that the singer can perform well at any time of the day, even if they’re unwell or slightly ill, even if they are full or starving, on hot days and on cold days, when the room acoustics are horrible or there are no monitors to hear themselves, when the instruments are too loud and when its too quiet. I am a singer so I realize there’s so many factors that we must overcome. We must aim to be beyond these factors, so that in the worst situation we perform well enough to be professional.
9. Writing like all art, is more than a scientific act. It is about the self, seeking the optimum and highest potential of our capability and being in tune with the self, and the entire process and journey of life.
More to come.