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By Johannes Helmold

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inside of writingAny profession has its secrets; there is no such thing as an easy-to-master occupation. Whatever it is you decide to do, you must remember what an occupation seems to be is just the surface. The famous Japanese Zen master Dogen wrote he had learned the true meaning of Buddhism from an old man who cooked food for monks. Always strive for what’s hidden in the depths.

Writing is the same. On the surface, it’s a set of actions: writing words, composing plots, generating characters, researching and brainstorming, expressing one’s thoughts and opinions, editing, publishing, and whatever else the public thinks writers usually do. But, as I’ve just wrote, it’s not so simple. Writing is like a calm ocean; beneath its clear and turquoise surface, there is dark-blue depth: inner blocks and fears to deal with; conflicts between your inner world and the real world outside you; lack of skill to express simple things, and so on.

To make your quest for improving as a writer easier (a little bit), I’ve prepared a short list of writing essentials. It’s some of the things that can await you right beneath the surface. You will have to go deeper on your own, but with these essentials you won’t have to wallow in the shallows longer than necessary.

1. Write for yourself. If your reason to start writing sounded like, “I want to become the new Stephanie Meyer,” or “My books will make me rich and famous,” you’d better revise your priorities. If you seek for recognition and fame, and hope to achieve them through writing, you won’t ever write a line of what you truly think; your concern will be to satisfy the needs and interests of your potential readers (buyers, I’d rather say). You will try to write in a way they would feel happy about.

Does it sound like what Hemingway, for instance would do? Or would Bradbury become great if he did? The answer is obvious, isn’t it? You are interesting to others only if you are interesting to yourself. Anything else is pretending.

2. Learn by reading good examples. There is no such thing as “more serious” or “less serious” literature genres. Be it sci-fi, high fantasy, or realistic novel, it’s all serious; important and wise thoughts have been expressed in world literature of all genres. If you want to write a sci-fi novel, alright, feel free to. But first, make sure to check out the masters of this genre: Arthur Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert, and so on. If you choose to write fantasy, no problem! Just read such authors as J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, Terry Pratchett, Ursula Le Guin, and others. This also refers to any other genre you choose: poetry, gonzo, belletristics, or whatever else.

3. Don’t be afraid. Rather often, you might face a thought: “No, dude, you can’t write that, it’s too harsh/obscene/complicated!” Or, you might also think, “What will they think of me if I write this?” Well, it’s all fair enough, but before it discourages you from proceeding your writing, please recall such names as Bret Easton Ellis (“American Psycho”), Stephen King (anything), George Martin (“Game of Thrones” and other novels from this series). The amount of things society claims to be inappropriate goes off-scales in these writers’ books. Does it make them worse? Of course not.

Well, here are just some pieces of advice. I am planning to write a bit more of essentials soon, so if you feel like you might need some more tips, stay updated!

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