Whenever I met somebody from high school, we would often reminisce how it was back then without the Internet. One thing that I cannot forget was the number of letters that I used to receive from my suitors. Words written in fragrant stationery sets impeccably prepared and sealed. I also remember a notebook that I became my diary as time goes on. The conversations always concluded with us wondering, why don’t we write letters anymore? Where are our diaries? How could we replace it with Facebook or Instagram posts—just like that!
The effects of the Internet and social media to our brain has quite aroused the curiosity of scholars all these years. The phenomena led scholars to conclude that the dopamine-infused social media sites have rewired our brain and changed how it absorbs information. Lack of focus and a decreased comprehension level are some of the cited theories that scholars have been one of the alarming effects that may affect people in the next generation. These two skills are very important in writing in a way that to become a good writer, you must develop the habit of reading. And not just any kind of reading but that deep, immersion in the written word. Writing also needs long hours of intense, uninterrupted focus of developing one’s thoughts on paper. And with the shortening attention span that we developed from social media, we might not be fit to go through the long writing-rewriting process in the future.
Then again, there will always be writers. There will always be people who will have that burning desire to document life or make an artistic version of it. There will always be people who will have this itch to create violence on paper and transform the insipid, the trivial into something extraordinary and artistic.
If you possess any of those characteristics but unfortunately, was born in this noisy digital era, here are five tips from writers that hopefully, can guide you through the dark and conquer the temptation to favor social media over real writing.
Know and master yourself.
Be yourself–not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be–Henry David Thoreau
As we expose ourselves in social media, we gotta learn how life should be lived—with the latest gadgets, trendy clothes, a grand vacation and a life filled with travels. These things confuse us and strayed us away from who we really are. To the gentle would-be writers out there, these may have crushed their hearts to pieces in a way that they may believe their quest for beauty and outlandish nature don’t fit in any of the stereotypical image that social media wants to promote.
Knowing every fiber of your own being and mastering your weaknesses will surely take years to come full circle, however, I tell you, the outcome will be worth the long wait. I, myself can testify getting through several dark nights of the soul, but here I am living again, fulfilling certain promises to myself and to the world.
You don’t have to be perfect to to write a perfect story. There’s not even a perfect story. But the top writers who dominate the industry are those who knew themselves perfectly well. When you know yourself, you will discern the best genre and the right writing techniques for you.
Read a lot.
“Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn
I deactivated Facebook for a week now as not only it made me feel bad with myself, it also destroys my reading habit. I told this to my friends who asked me why they cannot find me on Facebook anymore.
JK Rowling once admitted that she still reads the stuff she used to read in her childhood. Make time to read, make it part of your habit. This will mean then that you have to ditch social media to make time for some quiet reading time in a comfortable spot in your home.
Read when you want to write. These two skills go hand in hand for how will you know how masters of the craft use language artistically if you haven’t even read their works. Yes, writers need to experience life but how you put that down on paper need techniques that you learn from other writers.
Keep a private journal
I have advice for people who want to write. I don’t care whether they’re five or 500. There are three things that are important: First, if you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you.—Madeleine L’Engle
Even if you opt to write for a scientific journal or for a formidable magazine, one thing we should remember is that, writing is a communication to ourselves. This may mean that we have to go back to our diaries and practice our handwriting, which honestly, I haven’t done very often these days.
Uninhibited journal writing would let us communicate to ourselves and what we currently want and achieve, our deepest thoughts and fears. It might provide us fresh insights on how to finish a book or our next writing project.
Make time for writing.
“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word to paper.”― E.B. White
Be it in the wee hours in the morning, in the afternoon or before bedtime, you have to sit and allow some quite, reflective time for writing.
E.B. White shared that he doesn’t listen to music when writing but doesn’t mind the conversations and the noise that his family make in a day. He writes in the living room and doesn’t mind the ‘traffic’ that may have disturbed him from writing.
Haruki Murakami, however, has a definitive routine of waking up as early as 4.am. and working on his novel for five to six hours. He surrounds himself with other health habits like running or swimming.
I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism,” he once said in an interview.
Meanwhile, Ernest Hemingway likes to write in the morning starting at 6 until around noontime.
Bleed on paper.
No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader. –Robert Frost
Put your heart out on your writing. Be bold. Be brave to show your own style and to give a piece of your mind in your writing. Even if you are writing fiction, for example, stay true in your characters and don’t be afraid to give a personal touch to each of them. You might want to introduce a new technique or a new idea to your readers, but never hesitate to express them. Don’t be afraid to commit mistakes. Revise until you think that the output satisfies you.