Bradbury had it. King has it. Every writer worth their salt wants to find it, but few do. The ability to turn a phrase and swim through the English language in such a way as to seize the reader’s mind like a vise grip. Every writer’s method varies, in both tempo and tenor. Each take their time in creating the stories you read, often painting the scenes amidst unseen struggles. The Master’s Touch is the one thing that separates the common work from the extraordinary, and the good news is – you can obtain it.
Now the bad news
Mastery of any art form, whether it be sculpting, painting, or writing, takes time. No artist woke up one day and began their work as a master of the craft. Writers call it The Craft because it isn’t something you can pick up without working knowledge of the tools that accompany it. We craft visions of worlds which may never occur, or we work to open the minds of those who lack the ability to see what the present day truth is, all with the hope to affect some change in the culture. No one method is right or wrong, but each Master is skilled in the use of three tools.
Imagination – The Muse or spark when it comes to writing is something which is hard to define. Writers are often introverts. It’s a trend which comes with the territory. We’d rather spend our time inside our own mental sandbox, deciding what might happen in a current scene we’re working on. This leads to massive constructs within our minds of places and people that do not exist for anyone until we put them on paper. Imagination has a double edged sword, one which writers must guard against, and that is escapism. When our created places are more interesting than the world around us, writers recede from the world and push away those close to us. Use it with care.
Linguistic Communication – I still tell my ten years old to use his words. The reason behind this is simple, communication in the written form is based on words. Those you know, and those you don’t. It is the sole reason writers must have a verbose vocabulary, swollen with the obscure and trivial. We must use these as puzzle pieces to create a picture with each paragraph. Mold and shape what our readers take in through their five senses. Books are more than words, but in basis they are made up of them. Before you can get to the esoteric and mysterious you must master your own vocabulary. The downside to this tool is a multi-faceted one. Use too many words and readers will bore with a chapter, use too few or fall into the same patterns and your writing becomes guessable. The second tool may be the hardest to master.
Discipline – With all our love of emotion and the swell of hearts, writers tend to lack the ability to do the daily work. The right muse can help forge our minds into machines as we work toward our goal, but the 21st century we live in offers a plethora of distractions. Day-to-day life is just one which falls by the wayside, but include Social Media, games, day jobs, and family life as the top roadblocks to finishing the next scene. Writers must carve out time to work on what you’ll read next, and for pieces that might never see the light of day. All creators understand that each endeavor may end in failure and even Masters fail. Working through these failures to draw on the worthwhile parts of the process is what makes a good writer even better. It takes discipline to revise, edit, rewrite, and finally complete the work in front of you. Consider all the work-in-progress pieces that exist, now consider how many will never be finished. Discipline is a key tool, and one which you must harness and never let go.
In closing, I offer you this confession. I am not a Master, but you knew that already. Yet you also know I am working toward that end, a goal which every creator should aspire to. Fear is impossible to set aside, and even those who’ve mastered their craft feel it. It’s part of being human and we must hold onto those emotions in order to communicate with the rest of the world. I have much more to learn about myself and how I craft the stories I have within me. It has been a pleasure to share this year with you all, but in the coming weeks I will spend more time with internal work and that may mean a change to the frequency of my posts here. The blog isn’t going away, by its nature it serves as an opportunity to speak directly to my readers in my own voice rather than the the voice of a character. I urge you to find what you are passionate about and study it, put that study into practice, and take the risk of showing it to the world.