If You Want To Write


I am a fan of inspirational books, as you might remember from my previous post. 

Whether it’s about sportsmen and women overcoming adversity to be the best, or reading about great human achievements, I admire the resolve and strength of the human spirit.

But what I want to draw your attention to is a little book by Brenda Ueland (Oct 24, 1891 – Mar 5, 1985) titled, “If You Want To Write: A Book About Art, Independence And Spirit”. In this gem of a read, the creative writing pioneer talks about finding inspiration to write, and how to go about freeing up the imagination.

If you want to write

The chapter headings in “If You Want To Write”, first published in 1938, capture the book’s message down to a tee.

For example, there is Be Careless, Reckless! Be A Lion! Be A Pirate! When You Write, and He Whose Face Gives No Light Shall Never Become A Star.

Both chapter headings refer to writing with freedom – about being true to yourself. Good writing isn’t about copying others; it’s about being an individual. As Brenda says in her book, “Everybody is talented, original and has something important to say.”

Writing and imagination

For writers, both new and established with their craft, writing and the imagination go hand in hand. Stifle the imagination, and the writing will certainly be hindered. How do we do that – by simply allowing ourselves time; time to reflect and time to ponder.

If you want to write about a knight and a dragon, then see your knight before you – what’s he wearing, and what colour is his horse? Does he have a hero’s name, and for that matter, what’s the dragon’s name – does it reflect the scars on its tail, or the colour of its scales?

Take inspiration from your imagination and the sights and sounds you have experienced. If you allow yourself time, shapes and colours will form in your mind’s eye; characters’ voices will become clear and the blank story world before you will start to fill up.

I’ll leave the last word to Brenda: “Whenever a sentence came from the true self and was felt, it was good, alive . . .”

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one aspiring tip to new writers is to “write from your imagination”.

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