Those of you who follow me on social media may have already read Uros Petrovic’s words I heard at BookTalk. On one of the panels, while everybody infinitely debated on literature, The Fifth Butterfly author said: “We can all sit here and talk the best we can, like modern Ciceros, but it’ll be forgotten in less than a week. Simply, the brain only wakes up when something’s unusual. For instance, if I now rise up and sing the Pakistani national anthem backwards, that would be retold for years. But what we talk now wouldn’t be. Same goes for literature. There are just a few writers who know how to wake up someone else’s brain.”
This, of course, does not mean that you need to have some terribly shocking scenes in your work, so that it takes on importance (in which case this article would’ve been named Surprise your f*ing Reader). Quite on the contrary. A good amount of surprise given periodically is enough for it not to lose it’s true form, but here it’s all about your approach. Yes, writing is a job, and my blog repeats this in order for you to take it very seriously. Still, writing’s not a mechanical act nor it ever needs to be. If everything’s neat, what role does a writer have or, in the end, a reader?
When you approach writing, have in mind that creative writing requires a certain audience. As I already said, unless you’re keeping a diary, you should really format your writing somehow (a poem, a tale, etc) that is going to be read. However, writing’s an independent activity, as if you’re having a conversation with yourself. You write in a room alone, to yourself. So your primary goal is to amuse yourself, first. And to have fun, you have to write a text that is fun to you. This all may sound logical maybe, but all these things are connected with your reader. Because if you know exactly what happens on each page, you’ll lose the sense of play in writing. If there’s no surprise for you, your reader won’t be surprised too.
How to surprise a reader then (ie you)? Well, you open up and don’t write by the same principles all the time. This means that you will approach writing as daily ritual, and not because it’s your moral obligation. Find beauty in imperfection. Go through the familiar, then ask yourself what are the things you take for granted and why are you writing in a certain way. Think about the things you shouldn’t be thinking about, and end your stories in a way you don’t want them to end. As I mentioned last week, there are no mistakes in Creative writing, and it’s ok to stir things up sometimes.
Introduction to the task
Creating your own writing principles and discarding and testing them after, that’s what being a writer is all about. Your job as a writer is to turn the planet of language upside down and think of a brand new approach to creating a literature. Literature (or any art, really) is an open space that changes with each generation. And when you surprise yourself and your readers, you will be replaced, because it is now your “surprise” that has become the rule and standard to measure by.
Task: Methodological approach
Type of task: requires feedback and critical review of others’ writing
Length: any (eg. 500-1000 words)
For a whole one day, choose to “become” some other person, and write from a totally different perspective from your own. Get into the skin of your favorite actor, your parent, friend, boss, blogger and accept their daily responsibilities and routines. At the end of the day, write a story you’re familiar with (your own, or someone else’s) told with that newfound voice and style.
Aim of the task
It’s necessary sometimes to become someone else in order to better understand our own goals and processes. Go out of your frames so you can overcome your reservations and fears.
As always, do comment bellow and when you finish please review the article by another author. Explain how (un)believable they are in their role and what did you like (or didn’t) and why. Strive to provide constructive answer, instead of merely describing the feelings awaken in you by the text. Of course, see you next Wednesday at the same time (but not for long!), and in the meantime enjoy a handful of guest posts this month bears. Until then, share, like and suggest what you’d like to read, even if those things have absolutely nothing to do with writing… So we can all get in a surprise mode 😉
To keep everything in one place, here’s the whole online course here:
INTRODUCTION: Why Do I Write
FIRST PART: Screw Inspiration
SECOND PART: Common Writing Mistakes
THIRD PART: Surprise Your Reader – it’s this text 🙂
FOURTH PART: Enemies & Allies Of Writing