So What

People ask, “What should I do to become a writer?” The simple and true answer is always, has always been, will always be: “Write.”

But what about after you start writing. I’m not talking about show don’t tell, a bonfire of the adverbs, point of view smoothness, I’m talking about you.

You,

as a person,

as a writer.

If you ever find yourself thinking, “I am a great writer,” make the next words to rumble through your brainpan be, “So what.” Even if it’s true, and you make Shakespeare look like a tyro, think, “So what.”

A piece of music, a piece of art, a piece of writing, does not change the world. They may help show aspects of reality so somebody else can take action, find a way to fix things, or simply see the world differently, but the artwork itself does nothing.

It’s not science.

It’s not medicine.

It’s not engineering.

It’s art.

Take the craft seriously, but never ever take yourself seriously. Keep thinking ‘So What’ whenever you are praised for your work. Obviously, accept the praise (no need to be churlish) but don’t believe it.

Because if you stop thinking ‘So What’ you will fall into self-indulgence and ego. You will argue with editors and other people whose job it is to help you hone your work. You will fight over every word.

And turn out self-indulgent rubbish.

Then sooner or later you will publish a story. A story filled with brilliance and wit, observation and imagination, a story so good that they should make it required reading for all six billion of us.

And the readers, tired by the recent codswallop of your vanity, will say, “So what.”

PK’s Caveats: Caveat 1: I may not know what I’m blathering about. Caveat 2: There are no rules about writing, there are just things you can get terribly wrong. Caveat 3: If people apply the words never or always to storytelling techniques, ignore them.

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Filed under Storytelling, Art, and Craft

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