Yeah, I write for fun.
When I do write, my go to rules are Natalie Goldberg’s six rules of writing practice. I have a hard time with those rules. My internal editor (another Goldberg term) is pretty bad-ass about making sure I worry about what I’m writing. I exist as a very controlled writer…who wants to be that much more spontaneous about what he punches out on the keyboard.
Actually, the 6 Rules and I have a weird relationship. When I’m scratching away in my journal, whose audience I’m always wondering about, I can have moments of total abandon where I completely let go of the editor and scratch out a myriad of words that I find riveting to look over when I am done. However, put me in front of a computer keyboard and the words don’t come as honestly and free as they do when I scratch down the date and enter in whatever is on my mind into my journal. I like to blame that on the audience: I write these words here and now and I know that I’m going to put them on a website. World beware!
The journal, on the other hand, I’m not sure if anyone will ever read. I barely look it back over. The other thing about the journal is that, if I want to organize my thoughts, I just snap out a list on the page and then carry on underneath. No fuss. Doing the same thing drafting this piece involves switching windows and focus from the document at hand. Sometimes it becomes very difficult to get back to the original window and the original piece.
When I look over my work, which I do more thoroughly on some days and not so thoroughly on other days, I espouse Elmore Leonard’s ten rules. I first became aware of these rules in 2001 while I was living in Japan. I’d spent more years at that time wanting to be a writer than being a writer. Leonard’s rules came as an epiphany and I have basically worked on one creative project a year ever since.
The reminder in Leonard’s rules is that writing is simple. Just get out of the way of the words and keep it simple. Anything more contrived than that is hooptedoodle and to be avoided. If it sounds like writing, rewrite it. I’ve followed those rules for a good number of years and consistently found my writing improving.
So far, that’s sixteen rules for writing. I’ve found them extremely helpful to myself in batting out words over the years. Of course, I’m strictly an amateur. I’ve never published and that has been basically fine, in my opinion. I’m careful not to call myself a writer, because as Scalzi wrote, “You’re not fooling anyone when you take your laptop to a coffee shop.” Which is another fine bit of inspiration about writing.
Scalzi’s main point in the book is that, if you want to be a writer, you have to publish. Now, he meant it in the form of publishing with a publishing company. I took from it the inspiration that I always need an audience. Which is why I created this little nook and cranny over a year ago. Just a little spot to comment and write and be so very minor-league consequential. However, I obey Scalzi and I do not call myself a capital-w writer because, like I said, I haven’t published. Yet.