I have been awarded a Roar for Powerful Words by Mary. Nice to hear that someone thinks my words have power. I'm not entirely sure exactly what this means. But have been happily mulling it over because getting the award entails offering three shards of advice on how to make one's words powerful. And I do like a bit of advising. So here are a few thoughts on giving power to one's writing.
1)I think it was the poet Richard Hugo – in his brilliant book Triggering Town – who said you don't write because you want to say something, but because you have something to say. Huh? Rilke advised his young poet – Letters to a Young Poet – to write only if he is 'driven' to do so. And, finally, in a recent Guardian article Richard Eyre wrote 'Art is the expression of the voice of gifted individuals with a point of view', but, you can get 'bad' art.
All this adds up to suggest that to create art at all you first need to have more than a notion that you quite fancy doing it. You need to have a point of view, something to say, and you must really want to say it. Be driven to say it. The thing you want to say has to exist before the idea to write it takes hold. If this is the case you will make art. But it could be bad art, how? The only thing I can think of is that you haven't managed to convey the thing you want to say to your chosen audience. So you need two things: you need to know exactly what you want to say, and you need to know who you want to say it to. After that it's just a matter of practicing until you get it right.
For me writing is about engaging in a conversation. Often when I begin a new piece the conversation is with myself. It is through the act of writing that I am slowly discovering what my point of view is. I have written reams in the past few months, most of it crap, but I feel sure that once I know with absolute certainty what it is I feel so driven to say my writing will improve. Then I will be able to identify my reader. At the moment I write for myself and my best friend. As I write it is like I am imagining a cosy chat between her and me.
Writing this, now, has reminded me of the Ten Thousand Hour Rule. This asserts that no one, geniuses included, will be the best they can be at their chosen craft until they have actively practiced for ten thousand hours. This can be both heartening, 'I can improve!' and debilitating: ten thousand hours adds up to eight hours a day for five years! I probably haven't done one thousand yet.
2)Embrace the shitty first draft. One of my tutors said this to me and I have since scrawled it on my wall. It reminds me not to hate myself for not being Peter Carey. It gives me permission to be the novice I am. The most beautiful gardens thrive only because of the dung heaped upon them. The best, most accomplished writers re-draft endlessly. Roses don't fall off the end of their pens any more than they do mine. They are ruthlessly, artfully, nurtured from the soil of first drafts.
3)Explore words. Words are the writer's medium, as stone a or wood is the sculptor's. A writer needs to be thoroughly intimate with words. With their possibilities. Unless this is so, conveying meaning, generating the intended feeling in readers, will be a thankless task. Why make your job harder? Engage with the community of words.
I've herad of writers who don't like to read, fearing they will be overly influenced by other writers. I can see that might be a problem whilst in the process of creating, though personally I find my own voice grows stronger as I edit my work. Chip, chipping away until the point I am trying to make reveals itself. If you really do have something to say, hearing – reading – someone else say something else shouldn't be able to stifle it. Seeing how others shape with words shows their potential.
So there you are, a few of my thoughts on how to make your words as powerful as they can be. Now I have to award five other people. I have a very small circle and at least three of that group have already got the award. But I still have a good choice becuase it seems I move with the best in blogsville. So my awards go to:
Pat over at Past Imperfect: She has something to say and she says it with the utmost clarity. Having Pat on my sidebar is like having access to a very experienced guide to living.
Sam Problem Child Bride: Because she is just so cool. She has a very individual voice and it rings out loud and clear. I'm not saying I get it entirely but I have great fun trying.
Carole, whose Fractured Thoughts have a way of moving me to thought. She is self effacing, witty and very kind.
TIV at Postcards from Bloggerville: At this particular site (she has several) she groups together the words and pictures of other bloggers, thus saying something very powerful indeed. I have yet to explore her main blog the individual voice but now I have some time on my hands I can't wait to do so.
Lastly, but not, of course, leastly I have to give this award to Dr Maroon. This is because he is as mad as a box of poisoned frogs and will no doubt be a bit pissed with me for including him.
Oh, and I just want to say to the chosen five that you don't have to acknowledge this award if you don't want to. You don't have to give your top three tips for powerful writing. Just bask in the glory of being awarded. That should cheer up the good Doc!