Writers’ groups on Facebook are full of all kinds of people, from dreamy-eyed novices to old salts sharing their experience. One thing that used to make me smile in a slightly condescending “Oh how cute” way but now sometimes frustrates me are all the noobs (there’s really no other word for them) who come on asking “How do I become a writer?” or “How do I write a book?” or similar self-evident questions.
Usually to those I just answer factually: pick up a pen and write. But in this case, on a French-language writers’ group, I decided to boil that answer with a touch of sarcasm, a heavy dose of realism and some genuine advice mixed in and wrote this little recipe.
Finishing touches: a little more complicated.
- Writing tools such as pencils, pens, keyboards, quills, paintbrushes, voice recognition apps, paint-soaked fingers…
- Writing media such as paper, computers, phones, tablets, canvases, walls, cloud-based servers…
- 1 imagination (Should come standard with a brain. If in doubt, check with manufacturers). If insufficient, other imaginations can contribute as well
- 1 kick in the pants to get started
- 1 thatsallthereisiswear
- Collect words and sentences in the imagination and convey them onto the writing medium with the writing tools.
- Rinse and repeat as often as necessary until you have a piece to publish
- Publish said piece
- Let simmer on the market
- Stir occasionally with a little advertising
- Serve royalties warm in a roomy bank account
That’s all. Easy, right? You don’t need anything more than that.
Best results always come when the ideas come directly from the cook’s… I mean, the writer’s imagination. However, careful addition of some other ingredients can help fluff up the imagination and give it more volume. You can, for example, sprinkle a mix of baking soda and writing prompts onto your imagination. These prompts can take various shapes: paragraphs that establish the setting, pictures, videos, music, random words picked out of the dictionary, sayings, literary concepts, idea associations, etc.
There is one optional ingredient that many writers choose to include, as it can give a lot of volume, spice and flavor to the recipe: knowledge. In order to obtain said ingredient, one can use a finicky tool known as research. The bonus is, this ingredient is extremely forgiving in this recipe: whether you add loads or ignore it completely, the result should still be fine. I find skipping it leaves you with bland tabloids, cheesy children’s books and overly sweetened romance novels. Personally, I much prefer to include a healthy dose. Enough to provide some heat and a delicate tinge of context, but not enough to be overpowering. Indeed, too much of this turns the work into an academic paper, which is usually only digestible to a select few.
A lot can also be done by including rhyme and rhythm. Purists will say that only these ingredients are required, and decry the addition of actual music as making the dish too heavy and sometimes downright unhealthy. For example, classical music adds healthy, hearty notes of imagery, detail, and an aroma of sophistication, and rock’n’roll can give the dish anything from the natural aroma and flavor of cannabis to the tart, reality-shattering sting of acid. Reggaeton, on the other hand, saturates the end result with countless amounts of cheap, commercial, processed tunes, which I personally suspect have an impact on the quality of the text as well, as the content ends up quite monotonous and repetitive.
It is extremely important to use only content generated in the cook’s… Sorry, the writer’s own imagination. Otherwise the writer would risk many health issues, including but not limited to:
- Physical injury inflicted by the original creator of the content
- Legal injury inflicted by the original creator of the content
- The disappearance of significant sums of money from the cook’s… No, the writer’s bank account in favor of the original creator of the content and/or the State
- The dizzying fall of the cook’s… the writer’s reputation and credibility
- A much greater exposure to the disease that affects us all on a regular basis: writer’s block.