What to write about Writing

Write the truth as you know it.

Truth is grey, not black and white. What we believe to be true can change over time. There is an inscription above a door at the German Naval Officers School in Kiel that reads:

Say not ‘this is the truth’ but
‘so it seems to me to be as I now see things I think I see’

There will always be someone who believes the opposite to what you know to be true. Don’t let this stop you from writing what you believe. Truth is strongest when time is spent to investigate, explain and verify the facts. The problem is that sometimes it is easier to come to a conclusion by distorting, hiding and twisting facts.

So what to do? Be honest. Don’t pull your punches. Don’t worry about being blunt. Tell us the truth as you know it.

Outlining Plot Writing

Writing Backwards

In 1842 Charles Dickens, in correspondence with Edgar Allan Poe, noted that when the author William Godwin wrote ‘Caleb Williams’ that he wrote backwards. He started by ‘first involving his hero in a web of difficulties and then casting about for some mode of accounting for what had been done.’ (The Philosophy of Composition 1846)

Likewise, Pierre Boulle who wrote Planet of the Apes as well as The Bridge Over the River Kwai, started by writing the final chapter of his books and then working backwards.

Try writing your story from end to beginning. Start at the end, then ask yourself ‘How did I get here?’ Picture the action and choices that led you to this moment and watch as your story emerges. (This technique also works with individual scenes.)


Solzhenitsyn’s Pens

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote longhand with a large collection of pens scattered liberally across his writing desk. He said ‘Each of my pens is an individual with a personality of its own. I don’t write with just one. When I’m using one of them, others are involved too. So I use different types of pens for different tasks and to emphasise different thoughts and nuances – thin or thick ones, this colour or that. And I know what each one is for. That’s why my table’s so cluttered. In fact, each pen is at work.’

Dreaming Writing

How to kickstart your writing

As you put your head on your pillow, think briefly about what you want to write tomorrow. Then, rise early, drink a glass of water and write.

Writing feels so much easier in the morning. Ideas come more naturally. One sentence spurs the next and the remnants of your dreams may infuse your writing with something special.