Let me give you a dilemma to ponder on. Imagine a writer, extremely skilled in his craft, or hers, whatever, and this writer starts to write professionally. Here is the first thing that happens: the writer stops writing what it is they love to write and instead what they know people want to hear, what is de rigeur, in vogue, the style of the moment, the fad, etc etc. What comes next is the application of best practices, blogging styles, the many and numerous tricks of the trade and words like content management, SEO, post targeting, click baiting etc.
See, the worst thing that happened to writing as an artform in this century is the creation of the phrases, content development, content creation etc. Content developers are not writers same way wall painters are not artists. The ability to spin words that will entice and enthrall is beyond simple content made to sell a product, fill the pages of an e-book, the lines in a proposal or the empty pages of a website.
See, content development is not writing. A content developer is not a master of magic.
I manage a couple of blogs both privately and for clients and partners and I can tell you that the best content developers often are the worst writers imaginable. Good writers make awesome content developers for sure, but I can bet you a thousand quid that your best author will be hard-pressed churning out pages of (400 words or less) articles on ‘Beauty products for the insane and recently acquitted’ day in and out .
The point I am trying to make is this, when writers begin to pen down professionally, they start to follow the rules and the problems with rules is this: they stifle creativity in more ways than one. Not only do rules make it practically impossible to stretch the imagination further than a certain point (or at least allow it to, because imaginations as agreed by Messrs All and Sundry, have a way of stretching themselves wherever they like, rules be damned) but also, rules have this thing about defining the objective. The rules of an athletic track race demand that each runner stay in his lane and thus the objective changes. The objective of the race is no longer to find who wins the race by arriving first at the finish line, but to find who does so while staying in his lane. Rules draw a line to limit.
Writers should not be limited.
Our Heavenly Father shows us this first in His own word where by his will, he pens down what he deems is the story of creation as we will understand it, fantastic as it sounds. Our foolishness is therefore in determining and saying of what He has written that it is improbable or impossible to happen, given what little we know of the cosmos. But I digress.
Someone will argue that rules of writing are necessary so as to determine expertise and judge competence and also so as to establish a system by which what is written can be read and understood. And that I agree with.
The rule should therefore stay with the manner of presentation and not in the type of content. In the little village where I grew up, we often ran, us little kids of the village. Our rubber slippers held in our hands, to aid our bare feet with better traction on the ground, our trousers hitched up to prevent any sort of drag and so on. We ran to compete with each other, to know who was fastest and bestest. But most importantly, we ran for fun. We ran because we wanted to, surely competition was a basic staple in this need to race, but the enjoyment of it all was just as important. And so fat kids like me could run halfway to the wall, turn back and run the way we came. Everyone else yelled and complained, but it was all fun. In the presentation, comparing both the modern race as we see in the Olympics’ track events and that I constantly practiced in my little village, both involve moving from one end to another with the determining factor being the length of time of race and the order on which the competitors arrived at the end. Excellent. In matters of the lane, starter’s pistol, and other newfangled rules and regulations that govern the manner in which the race is run, the rules only see to stifle.
The basic sprinting stance now involved moving with legs pumping and arms like a piston following in coordination. In the old village, some ran with both arms flung out to the sides, others with arms straight back in the manner of anime ninjas and some yet just ran with reckless abandon. Some, such as yours truly, simply rolled along as a mass of shaking and shivering rolls of flesh.
When you write, write with reckless abandon. Let the words pour forth and the truth of your soul peek through.
I had an epiphany yesterday.
“An artist must be a man of huge appetites. For to understand the world which he depicts he must have a huge desire for it. The world. The artist must want to swallow it up, to gobble it whole, to completely immerse all of himself in the sticky morass of the world. To have the world stink on his skin. For you must understand that art is only a reflection of the world, a description, a depiction, an interpretation, seen through what the artist has seen, heard, felt or desires of the world. Art is the world made new.
Now here is the rub. An artist must have a huge appetite for the world, but the artist must not satisfy this appetite in the world, but in their art. In your art. The artist just take all of his longing and desire and paint on canvas, play on stage, sing with all of their breath, or scribble out with a pen. The artist must scratch himself of all of this desire. Purge all of it out by delving into it, but only through the art. Only through his creation will the artist live and experience his desire. Those artists who have realised their appetites and have made of it their art, they succumbed to the knowledge they will never experience their art in this lifetime and so decided that they will portray it in their art, and so from the moment of that decision, they were plagued with the need and desire to quickly gain release.
It is the job of the art connoisseur, the novel reader, the gallery shadow, the music lover to experience these worldly desires so expressed by the artist. It is he who would dive headlong into the mess of the artist’s wants and dreams, immerse himself in the shameless sty of the fifth of the artist’s vilest thoughts and experience in them an enjoyment, a relief, an orgasmic delight akin and belonging to the sigh of the artist’s final satiety.”
Rules however, will not let the artist fully express these desires. Rules leave no space to dive in and roll thickly within the desires that will be expressed.
When writing in 2016, my advice is simple. Ignore the rules, plunge in deep. Write from the heart, in bold slashes that dare criticism. Write the things you want to, ignoring the comments and the unlookers. Throw the ink against the sheets, slam your palm on the keyboard, imprint your fucking ideas on the mind of every one who reads. Then settle back and say, “Fuck it! That’s what I think, and I think beautifully.”
That what GOD did, only not in those words.
- I am a content developer
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