7 Things I’ve Learned As A Writer

Hey everyone, I’ve got a new vlog for you all! =)

Since (by my own judgment) I kind of suck at talking to a camera and may have fumbled a couple points, I wrote a basic outline that goes a little more in-depth than the video:

  1. Accept criticism of your work. Let’s face it. If you’re not willing to listen to what readers have to say about your work, you will never develop yourself as a writer. This can be a bit of a balancing act at first, but you have to learn to weigh what is most beneficial to you. There will always be self-righteous trolls out there ready rip apart your work for stupid reasons, but the good thing is that you get the final say and you don’t have to listen to that shit. Only accept what your think would make your story stronger.
  2. Read more. It will make you a better author. This should go without saying. And when I say read, I don’t mean Buzzfeed or Cracked articles (unless of course that’s who you’re writing for), I mean read actual books. Read many books, and in different
    genres and points of view. Not only will it strengthen your prose and dialogue, but it will also expand your horizons and help you see what is necessary to build stronger characters andan addicting narrative. Plus you may find yourself coming up with ideas in a genre you hadn’t previously considered writing in before.
  3. Characterization is everything, because characters drive the plot. This isn’t necessarily something I’ve ever had a problem with, because most of the stories I read deal with strong character development.I also watch people a lot and I think watching a lot of movies has really helped me develop good, strong characters and dialogue. Dialogue is actually one of the first things I write for my story when I’m constructing a scene, and sometimes I’ll even pace around my room like a crazy person trying to act out that scene. But that’s not because I’m insecure or nuts about it, I’m just emotionally moved by it, and strong characters are what I base my entire plot around. Think of characterization as the Force from Star Wars. It’s always there, surrounding everything, but you can’t see it. That’s what strong characterization does. Then the action comes, and it changes them from within, and they react. Given the Force and inner workings of your characters, how do they react? Strong characters are essential for telling a story worth reading.
  4. If you love it, stay in it for the long haul. I can’t tell you how many artists, writers, and musicians I’ve seen quit at this just because they didn’t know how to build an audience, or decided that just because one part of their story or song was crap, they
    should just throw out the entire thing. But your creations are, for better or worse, a mental and emotional extension of you. In effect, they’re your children. And you don’t throw out the baby with the bath water, do you? You don’t throw your kid out on the street just because they slipped up once. Writing a story, just like with any kind of art and even parenting, is about loving and nurturing your creation and seeing it through. So if you really love to write, don’t quit! It’s a vital part of you and I promise that with enough love and dedication, it will get better and you can do anything!
  5. Write in multiple points of view. It will expand your horizons. The fact is, most writers typically start in first person, just because it’s easier to put yourself in your character’s shoes and write his or her thoughts down. Basically, like writing a diary. The problem with this is that first person is a very hard point of view for newbie writers to pull off effectively. For one, you’re not able to see what anyone else is thinking, and two, your entire world will be colored by your character’s perception of it. You have to show equal parts introspection as well as outside action. That’s not to say that you can’t tell a great story with that point of view, but it’s important to be aware of the benefits and limitations that each perspective comes with. I for example wrote my first two books in first person, and while it worked for those stories, I realized it wasn’t going to work for my current story. I decided to try third person limited POV, and while it was a little awkward for me at first, I’ve gotten incredibly comfortable with writing in that style, and my story is much better as a result. So don’t limit yourself.

  6. Remember to write and read with cultural diversity in mind. AKA, #CheckYourPrivilege. Hopefully, you’re not racist, misogynist, or a hater of LGBTQ people. I cannot stress this enough, because it’s a question a lot of straight, white, male authors seem to struggle with. There’s a good quote a friend of mine said a while back, and that is “it takes effort not to be racist”. My point here is that if you’re a white, straight author and your stories don’t include women, people of other ethnicities, sexual orientations, or gender identities, you’re being ignorant and your stories will probably be boring. Consider that it is possible to be ignorant by omission as well; if you’re not including the physical descriptions of your characters and you are a white author, it’s generally assumed your cast is white unless noted otherwise. If you are genuinely concerned with how to remedy this problem, I highly suggest visiting a Tumblr called Writing With Color that will tell you pretty much everything you need to know on how to write with cultural diversity in mind.
  7. Make friends with other authors. Seriously. There are way more of us than you think! Especially indie authors, who need your support the most. Plus there’s nothing more beneficial to your writing than making a few friends who might help you edit and beta read your work. So get out there and make some author friends, because they’re literally all over Twitter. Join a writers group! Even if there aren’t any in your local area, there are plenty you can find online. Sign up for NaNoWriMo. I know that’s in November, but its extension site, Camp NaNoWriMo, is going on all throughout the year to help keep you motivated. You can make personalized writing goals and keep in touch with groups of other authors just like you. You literally have nothing to lose. Even if you’re as painfully introverted as me.

    So those are my Top 7 Things I’ve Learned As A Writer, and I hope they help you too =)

You Don’t Know What It’s Like

I try to see the 21st century as a formative one when it comes to society. We can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, as the saying goes. Despite that, I’m disgusted by the amount of bullies that online anonymity frequently produces, the sheer ignorance and lack of understanding of some people, and the fact we’re still fighting century-old battles that should have been resolved by now. Racism, women’s rights, LGBT+ rights, constantly shaming each other because we’re not good enough or whatever.

You don’t truly know someone else’s struggle. You don’t know what demons some people fight every second of every day. And it’s far too easy to resign yourself to ignorance than to learn respect and tact. I write about this constantly in every story I pen, because it’s not something people want to understand. From the darkest and most evil to the saddest of the sad. People commit mass genocide, invade countries, fight long and brutal wars and torture the crap out of each other and themselves for many years.

All to avoid sitting down, listening, and talking. The one human phenomenon that continues to boggle my mind.

Why. Why. Why is it ever so IMPOSSIBLE to sit and talk and try understanding each other? A question for the ages. I know we’ve come a long way, and we’ve longer still to go.

I do have hope.

But I just wanted to illustrate how much this avoidance of natural communication wears on humanity.

Justin Bieber is naked, you say? Thoughts on Privacy and #NotAskingForIt.

Let me preface this by saying that I am not a Justin Bieber fan, and I likely never will be. I don’t particularly care for him. I may not like his music or his fan base, or the fact that I’ve had to hear about him being young and stupid and acting like a nuisance, just as I was once young and stupid and acted like a nuisance (face it, we all share that in common with him at least).

Maybe he’s a player, or maybe he’s just really misunderstood and has a lot of heart. Or maybe he’s as vapid as they say. The fact is, no matter what you personally think about Justin Bieber, he is still just as much of a human being as you or I. He still has the same right to privacy, to personal autonomy, to feel safe no matter where he is, especially in his own home or back yard or yes, even on his deck in Bora Bora. Those are undeniable, fundamental human rights. We all have them. The UN even has a formal declaration on them.

And so last night when nude photographs of him taken by a paparazzi suddenly surfaced on Twitter and went viral with the snarky hashtag #WhatDoYouPeen (a wordplay on his latest single, “What Do You Mean?”), his human rights were in clear violation. Those were not photos he himself took, nor approved for release (as far as we know), nor was probably even aware of the existence of.

“But heck,” you might say, “who even cares?” This is nothing new, obviously.  It happens all the time to even the most thick-skinned of celebrities, right?

And, well, that right there is precisely the problem.

We in America have deluded ourselves with the misguided belief that just because someone makes a living out of constantly being in the public spotlight, they  must have forfeited all rights to privacy from the moment they signed a recording contract, joined the Screen Actors Guild, or was born an heir or heiress to a large fortune. From the moment they wake up until the moment they go to bed, these people are treated as nothing more than porn objects by gossip magazines and those who starve for the next juicy detail.

Everyone thinks “oh, they’ll get over it”. Or they’ll just go crazy and people will laugh as if they’re circus animals, because of course it’s always easier to blame the monkey in the cage for wanting to attack us when we get too close than it is to own up to the fact that we put more pressure on them than we ever do on ourselves, and we should probably get a life and do something worthwhile instead of waiting for their next meltdown so we have something interesting to talk about. Celebrity gossip can be an addiction for many people.

What is most disturbing to me about this concept is the pervasive reality that they can and have been photographed literally everywhere they go, largely without their consent, their images consumed en masse by addicts who follow their every move right down to the nanosecond. Now these are known artists and entertainers who are followed for their merits, but imagine for a moment that they were porn stars; does such a fixation really seem natural or healthy? Or if they were your neighbors, just everyday average citizens, there would be no question about it. All that stalking and taking pictures would land you in a jail cell.

So what makes a person’s celebrity status any different? Don’t even get me started on the creep factor when they have kids. There’s something so incredibly disturbing about strangers wanting to take pictures of your children. I don’t care what the reason is behind it, there’s no way in hell it’s justifiable. But it’s good to know that they can at least fight back about that:

Another thing that grinds my gears is that I’ve even heard some say that because of what they do, celebrities are “asking for it”. They’re stars, they like the attention and the best kind is free, and they love having their faces plastered everywhere. Nudity or sex tapes are good publicity. And if they don’t want to be photographed (and they rarely do as they go about their normal day, so god forbid the paparazzi don’t get a paycheck), suddenly they’re prude or horrible or whatever else. I’ve literally seen videos of paparazzi guys acting like that. You know who else uses that argument? Rapists and domestic abusers.

But their status as entertainers is no rationale, and even being naked, as many people seem to think, is not any indication of “asking for it”. That goes for any kind of unwelcome advance, pictorial or otherwise. If you don’t believe me, take a look at nudist colonies and those living the naturist lifestyle around the world. Crimes are practically nonexistent among their communities, yet they’re naked, and none of them are asking for anything, least of all unwelcome sexual advances. Speaking of which, I find it odd, too, that in America we have this view that nudity in and of itself must always be sexual in nature. If someone wants to be naked, heaven forbid they don’t face ridicule, slut-shaming, or an avalanche of inappropriate commentary.

Fans with prurient interests come crawling out of the woodwork whenever this happens.

Looking through the mess on Twitter, I was pretty disappointed.

Look, I get it. People lap up scandal all the time in America, and we’re a bit of a historically prude country who never seems to outrun its Christian influence in everything from politics to interpersonal relationships. People are clamoring to see each other naked, especially celebrities, because we idolize them and I guess the fantasy is a pervasive thing (so much sometimes that many have resorted to creating fake nudes of them).

But it’s when we let that pervasiveness take control and turn a blind eye to the pressure they face that it becomes a dangerous thing. And this has crossed so many boundaries in so many ways, it’s not cool or funny. It never was.

If you truly appreciate the talents and hard work of your favorite entertainers and celebrities, please respect their right to privacy and remember to think twice before jumping on the bandwagon with things like this.

Respect others’ rights to privacy and take care of yourself.

Coming next week will be a post about self-neglect and the perils of American consumerist society 😉 Stay tuned!