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Schreibtischtäter > Literary writing > Text Layout

We are all creators of language, but to return to the prospectus offered by the University of Life, although creative writing has rediscovered its historical rhetorical home within the academy, it academy it is blindingly observable that you do not have to pass through an academy an academy to be a writer. As I said, a writer is a student of their discipline all their lives. Being taught or being shown how to write; being taught technique; being given time to work – all these can help the right people at the right time. However, at some point the course ends and you are on your own, fledged, pushed out of the nest into you own voice. There is a world elsewhere in which you have to learn to teach yourself. It is best to start preparing for this now.

Capturing ideas writing

William Faulkner said: “A writer needs three things, experience, observation and imagination, any two of which, at time any one of which, can supply the lack of others.” Experience heads the list. Experience is not all about action and your physical reality, although it can be. It is also about your psychological reality; even your imagination and dreams. It is about your fears, uncertainties, failures, terrors, losses. Experience, for a writer, is an art of losing. Even in a triumph, there is cost. The cost of experience is currency for creative work.

Even dreams are part of experience, and you should start keeping an account of your dreams in a notebook. Dreams are a means for reflection, and a preparation for situations we might yet face, so the imagination can work as a teacher and maker. Many good writers create characters or of that situation. They use a sympathetic imagination to reach, and explore; they make it up. Imaination and dreams are parts of your reality.

Choose to keep notes on anything that stimulates you in the news. Do not copy from life questioning events and by thinking your way into them, you begin to tear at that reality and make it your own. Taking other people`s stories has the same effect. Listen to older people – encourage them to talk about their lives, and practice listing to your friends and family. You might even choose to eavesdrop in public spaces, such as cafés.

Writing against you experience

Let us focus on one world experience we all probably share humiliation. Humiliation is a position from which many writer work; it is the privates face to face the art of losing. The demands of working and shaping language lend themselves to humiliation as well as humility. The world of work can be a great humiliate and destroyer of the soul. However, personal humiliations also provide energy, material and purpose. One example, writing is widely seen as not being a “proper job”, or inferior in value to other froms of study, or work. Whether inside or outside the academy, you risk being looked down upon. You can accept this as a challenge and, by your action, defy it.

Feeling of humiliation may already be familiar to you. We feel it, for example, when a boss or teacher puts us down for making a useful suggestion, or an intellectual corrects the pronunciation of a word back to us by including it in their reply, sneeringly italicized. The art of correction is a burst of contempt; they are showing us our place, for we have crossed some invisible border into a country whose language and ideas and ideas we should not be allowed to speak – let alone write.

Creative writing and freedom of expression

One of the most striking aspects of a creative writing workshop is that opinions are voiced with freedom. Sometimes, students in those workshops find it hard to get used to this freedom because, in their past, those opinions have either not been sought, or they have been ignored, or they have been shamed as foolish. Yet inexperience can be inadvertently wiser at times than experience. It carries fewer preconceptions Language belongs to every human. It lives by evolution, by being played with and by being hit at fresh angles.

Such language places what is described at several removes; it does not change the intolerable actuality. It tampers quite deliberately with our reaction to it, attempts to neutralize it. It infantilizes us in our complicity or passivity, and this is the intention and design: to deter or deflect our humane objections by dampening our emotional responses. Writers are the antennae for language, designers of speech, and you, as new writers, should similarly be alert to language`s abuse and debasement.


The world`s indifference to your writing is remedied by the corrective action of producing and publishing only your best writing, and even then nothing is guaranteed. Change the sale of what you expect; it is self-corrosive to play to such a big audience. Think locally in the hope of being prized so: small world’s link, making greater worlds. Your creative class is world enough to begin with. Try to answer their indifference for new writing. Trust to the notion that life short and art is long, and then just keep practicing.

Rival media

Some of the social and cultural constraints described by Virginia Woolf may have loosened, but others have arisen to take their, place, not least a popular view of literacy writing as an art from that offers far less than film or digital media, in social and political terms, and even in imaginative experience and technical daring. To what extent do you, as a new writer, accept this as a challenge rather than a threat? Make an ally of film and digital media, by either creating fiction that becomes film, or writing that exploits and expands new technologies for its transmission. See the section “Electronic performance” in Chapter Nine.

Fantasy and perfectionism

Some writer do not fulfill their promise for a number of reasons, such as their addiction to a fantasy idea of themselves, spinning daydream of success, while not comprehending that creative life involves exceptional levels of attention. A parallel enemy is perfectionism. Many creative write strive for perfection in their work and working practice, but not enough of them achieve it. That is because they are striving rather than practicing, and because perfect writing does not exist, only provisional versions that you revise until they have their own life. If you writing reached perfection, it would read as if it were dead. “The essence of being human it that one does not seek perfection” – George Orwell.

Work-life balance

Perfection of the life the art is not possible because, as E. M. Forster put it, life is a muddle. Writing out of the muddle may supply us with material – for autobiographical creative nonfiction, for example. Blaming life for shortfalls in our work is like blaming everbody we know for shortfalls in ourselves: irresponsible, morally indefensible. Yet many failed writers comfort themselves this way. What you do and what you say are your working practice has to be reflected in discipline in your life, but without being autocratic about this with other people. Make the work-life balance work and live. One way is to be honest with yourself and those around you about what you want to do. Explain the demands on your time and your hopes for writing, then discuss and decide what is possible and achievable rather than what is impossible or idealistic. By setting yourself realistic objectives in writing, you stand a chance of carrying out many of them, without carving yourself a double disappointment of life and literature. You many even achieve some impossibility without knowing it. However, you must do what you have said, even if you do not succeed; otherwise you are not only letting yourself down but also tarnishing the goodwill of those around you.

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