As an active member of WordPress for a little over a month now, there are a few idiosyncratic things that I’ve noticed while perusing through the content of various blogs.
First of all, there’s a lot of writing about “writing,” but this writing isn’t actually about anything. That kind of bums me out, because there’s nothing that I enjoy more than reading a well-written article that is about something.
While it can be difficult to come up with interesting topics to write about, this is why it’s so important to read the work of other authors so that you can allow some new ideas to percolate in your brain before you crap them out on the page. But this is only the first step, because the real key to writing well is editing that crap into food for thought that a total stranger would actually want to consume.
Empty platitudes about writing adorned with the hashtag “#amwriting,” are some of the most common posts I’ve seen writers making across social media. More often than not, this hashtag seems to be a way for some writers to stay relevant than it is to share an interesting piece of writing.
In the article, “For seven years, a global community of writers has been using a hashtag to complain about writing,” author Ephrat Livni notes that writers are mildly delusional and that, “when writing for yourself, motivation must come from within. No one cares if you ever get it done. Really” (Livni 2017).
How “#amwriting” became a content, motivational crutch:
“Using the hashtag #amwriting, scribes across the globe convene daily to procrastinate, find inspiration, and kvetch collectively…But with the hashtag’s growing popularity also comes more spam, and more self-promotion. Today #amwriting is where writers, a famously moody and solitudinous bunch, often make announcements best left unexpressed (editors exist for a reason!) and articulate sentiments so relentlessly positive that they suggest the announcer has never faced a blank page” (Livni 2017).
This may sound cynical, but if we’re being honest: how many times have we all struggled in front of an empty screen, or blank page, while trying to wax poetic about something that we’ve never experienced or know very little about? While there’s nothing wrong with going through this process, it can become a problem when a writer gets into the habit of posting their unedited first thoughts, rough drafts onto the internet.
Ephrat Livni elaborates on the unrealistic expectations and distorted view of writing that can come from the overexposure to the hashtag #amwriting in her Quartz piece:
“Fellowship and positivity in the face of high odds of failure is fine. But #amwriting can give the impression that books are written by taking long walks in the woods, mainlining coffee, and reciting inspirational quotes when really the process is lonely and boring, and the hard parts can’t be shared” (Livni 2017).
Another thing that I’ve noticed on WordPress is just how obvious inexperienced writing can be to an audience; the only real solution to this issue is to go out in the real world and get more life experience. Read an author you’ve never read before, go somewhere new and look into the history of that place…talk to someone you disagree with. There is an ever changing world filled with fascinating people, places and things that are all right outside of our comfort zones; it’s easy to fall into a routine where all we do is consume the familiar.
As writers, we’re supposed to write what we know. Journalists are supposed to only write what they know for sure. These are two of the most helpful axioms to keep in mind whether your are writing fiction or nonfiction. Also, if you don’t know: do research. Doing research is probably one of the most enjoyable aspects of being a writer and reading the work of an author who has a thirst for knowledge can be flat out inspiring.
If there’s one takeaway from this blog post, let it be something that Ernest Hemingway would think as he looked out over the Parisian rooftops, “Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know” (Springer 2013).
The Woody Allen film, “Midnight in Paris,” features Corey Stoll as Ernest Hemingway, Stoll rattles off one of Hemingway’s quotes about writing in this scene:
“No subject is terrible if the story is true, if the prose is clean and honest, and if it affirms courage and grace under pressure.” – Ernest Hemingway
Allen, Woody, et al. “Midnight in Paris.” 2011. IMDB Website: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1605783/
Livni, Ephrat. “For seven years, a global community of writers has been using a hashtag to complain about writing.” Quartz: January 10, 2017. Website: https://qz.com/875704/for-seven-years-a-global-community-of-writers-has-been-using-a-hashtag-to-complain-about-writing/
Maverick, John. “Midnight in Paris (2011) Scene: “What are you writing?”/‘Hemingway.’ YouTube: July 15, 2015. Website: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wM06z5lA74
Springer, Mike. “Seven Tips From Ernest Hemingway on How to Write Fiction.” Open Culture: February 19, 2013. Website: http://www.openculture.com/2013/02/seven_tips_from_ernest_hemingway_on_how_to_write_fiction.html