I want to share how I improved my writing craft in the hope to inspire others. I’ve been reading and writing for the last six years or so and I’ve noticed that my social circle influence my writing. When I started all the way back in 2013, I was still in high school, unaware of what to write about or even how to write but I had this staunch desire to pursuit my dream of publishing a book one day and that’s what kept me going. For people who want to get to the main point of this post, I’d encourage that you skip to the paragraph starting with “In my hiatus, I’ve been…”
I started where every novices would think to start, I googled stuffs online on how to write fiction. I came up with many writing paradigms notably the snowflake method which perfectly suits my style. I eventually read books like “Fiction for dummies” and “On Becoming a Novelist”. I also learned to follow the writing methodology of Randy Ingermanson. For those of you who are interested to learn about it, please visit this link.
I had the will to pursue that endeavour but I felt like I was missing something. I felt like I was missing the support of a friend. Yeah, sure, I talked about it with my real life friends but most of them would ridicule me, with one of them saying that I am not intelligent enough to write something as compelling and interesting as the giants out there. Now, that’s a harsh statement but I really gave it some thought and I took it as a challenge. So, I read a lot in the hope to become better.
English is not my native language and I’ve always struggled with it back when I was still a student. I almost failed my Cambridge examination because of my poor performance in the language. It is that failure and the harsh criticism that I’ve gotten that pushed me towards excellence. But yet again, I felt like I was missing some sort of companionship. So, I went online to look for a writing partner. Believe it or not, I found someone on Omegle. He is from Finland and he was looking for a partner as well. We agreed that we’d fused our work together since both are political thrillers. At the time, I didn’t realise how my writing was changing but it certainly was changing for the better and I was really enjoying my time with my Finnish friend, building our story world, spending long hours discussing character development, researching elements to talk about. It was fun.
However, all good things eventually come to an end. My friend found a girl whom he gave all his attention to. Everything we’ve worked so hard to achieve came to a full stop. But, I made a promise to myself and it is one that I need to honour. I strived on alone. I drew my characters, rehashed some of the subplots, while reworking character motivations as the narrative kept on changing. Eventually came a point when I decided to go on a hiatus while I pursue other writing angle in the hope to hone my craft and to find the right motivation to achieve my dream of publication.
In my hiatus, I’ve been playing a lot of video games and sometimes, I’d write my thoughts on what I’m playing. I once wrote a short review on a boss fight in Bloodborne and I posted it on my Facebook, alongside the gameplay. A few weeks later, I get a message from a random guy. He first got caught of a toxic comment I wrote under the post of a video game publisher. He thought it was funny and when he clicked on my profile, he saw my Bloodborne post. He read it and enjoyed it very much. We talked about the fight, Bloodborne and video games in general. He complimented my writing although it was negative. So, from his encouragements, I wrote more and more Facebook posts, mostly based on how my new friend would appreciate them. The style was rather toxic. I'm not very proud of them. But, this is to tell you that I was influenced by how that one guy encouraged me. My writing craft was formed based on a reward system. I'll write stuffs and my friend would be happy reading them, without realising how negative the writing was and that got me into a lot of trouble at work because some people don't know how to differentiate between private life and work life. That was when I realised I should create a closed group in which I can write whatever I want. Initially, the group was around 75 people, mostly consisting of my gamer friends but it eventually grew to 300+.
Eventually, people who aren’t my friends would challenge my approach. Their level of maturity, professionalism, criticism, support and enthusiasm greatly influenced me and how I’d eventually adapt my writing. My proclivity to listen to the criticism of these people changed my writing craft for the better. Now, every time I’d write something, I keep in mind how these individuals would perceive the use of a particular word or the way I’ve formulated a certain phrase. It helps me avoid a lot of errors in my syntaxes. I also make sure that I keep it friendly. Pride shouldn’t blind what you pursue. You should learn to take criticism as harsh as they may be. Listen to what people has to say and adapt them to your writing in the hope of ameliorating your craft. Look for some friends online. I know it can be awkward to message a random stranger but if you present yourself with good intentions, I promise you, people will always listen to what you have to say.
This post turned out to be longer than I expected. Apologies if its too long. Let’s exchange in the comments if you have any questions or if you want to share your writing history. I’d love to read them.
TL;DR – My friends and especially their criticism helped influence my writing for the better. I developed a preconceived feedback mechanism based on how they would criticise my writing and it’s been a lot of fun.