• A Writer’s Tools

    Posted Posted by Guest Writer in WBN News & Events     Comments 5 comments
    Aug
    18

    Today we offer a guest post from Austin writer Aundraya Ruse.

    One of the most wonderful things about the physical act of writing is its simplicity. Take a piece of paper and a pen (or open up a word document on the computer, etc.), unleash your imagination and just write. Sure, that’s the real meat of it all. But let’s consider a few other writing tools that I find to be essential.

    — A Thesaurus. To be perfectly honest with you, I am not proud of my vocabulary range. Sometimes I’ll read short fiction that uses all these perfect words that I know the meaning of but, for whatever reason, would never come up with in my own writing. In some cases, depending on the story I am writing and its required tone, the use of simple language works in my favor. Of course, that is not always the case. I am not ashamed to say that as a writer, a thesaurus is my best friend (an online thesaurus, really). Usually it’s not to find and use a word I’ve never heard of, but rather to find the right word. The word that I won’t recall until I see it and know that it is exactly the word I want to use to make the sentence sound exactly the way I want it to sound. Call it cheating, if you will, but I’ve honed it into a useful technique that works for me and my writing.

    And okay, maybe sometimes I like sounding ever-so-slightly smarter than I actually am.

    — Books and Literary Magazines. Everything there is to be written about has already been written about, right? Fine. Read it. To get the motivation to write, I sometimes have to walk into a bookstore, pick up a literary journal, and just start reading what other people are writing. I’ll take note of the various styles, things I like and dislike, and even read the authors’ bios in the back to get an idea of what they’re doing with their lives. Submersion into books and journals yields familiarity, which yields personal writing growth.

    — Life. I once read a quote by Henry David Thoreau that truly spoke to me: “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” For many of us, a blank page is the most daunting element of writing. We feel pressured to produce something spectacular, and that pressure alone makes it hard to come up with anything at all. Many of us write about our own experiences, but if our experiences consist of staring at a blank page and pressuring ourselves, where does that leave us? I write my best when I’m writing what I know. How will I ever know about anything if I don’t get out there and absorb every bit of life that I can?

    So go, writers! Put down your pencils or turn off your computers or put your only working Smith Corona typewriter back on the shelf with the rest of your vintage typewriter collection. Go do something for yourself. Do something for someone else. Try something new or do something old that you haven’t done in years. Live.

    Oh, and I used a thesaurus probably three times in this post.

     

    Aundraya Ruse recently moved to the Austin area after graduating with a B.A. in English (creative writing focus) from Texas Tech University. Catch her on Twitter here.

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    David Duhr

    Good call on the literary journals. You do it the right way–go into a bookstore with the intention of browsing the litmag section. We subscribe to a bunch of them, and it’s so easy to transition them from the mailbox straight to the shelf, out of mind.

    And thesaurus.com is a good friend of mine.

    Christy Jahn

    very good again Draya

    Renee Lee

    Well done Draya! I am sharing with my Facebook buddies, of course! I love the things you write, it inspires me so.

    Sara Mitchell

    Great advice! Really solid article, Draya.

    Ratio

    For me faith is one of my greatest writing tools. Often times I find myself sure of what I want to write, sure of what I’m saying, and even sure of how I want to say it.. But still, there I sit rewriting the first page to the extent of being burned out on the idea before I really get started. It seems that as I judge myself by my perceived lack of ability and education I lose all momentum.. But when I have faith in myself the words flow like water released from a felled dam. The thoughts become… Read more »




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