I wrote a guest blog on Curriculum Creativity, a site devoted to the noble goal of improving outcomes and experiences for children. It’s about creative writing and the beauty of storytelling. Below you’ll find the full post.
Writing is magical and we all love magic, don’t we? The famous author Stephen King said that writing to him is a kind of telepathy, because using only a piece of paper, written ages ago, you communicate with another person, sending them images, emotions, whatever you want to transmit. If you want to call it magic or telepathy is up to you, but it’s definitely something special. I like to call it a gift.
Writing is a gift we should share, but how can the written word compete with videos, movies, iPads and the abundance of everyday escape available through the Internet? Why would a generation spoiled for choice choose a book instead of a movie or writing instead of playing computer games?
Besides encouraging visits to libraries and book discussions that doesn’t deal with the usual “old and musty tomes”, but something fresh and interesting the students can relate to; I think the easiest commodity to sell and encourage right now among most school subjects is creative writing, the beauty of crafting stories and how they enrich our lives.
After all, isn’t writing a cool thing to do? And why would being an author be less sexy and marketable than for example a rock star, a rapper or an actor, who people look up to so much these days – you still use your emotions and thoughts to communicate with your audience. Although it’s in some ways more indirect, the plus-side for the writer is that the written word is timeless and can be accessed at anytime from anywhere by anyone. If that isn’t magic I don’t know what is.
So how do you sell the magic of writing and storytelling? Well, I think you need to use the tools available to us today, the ones enabling us to be seen and published without a huge publishing house or a newspaper behind us. I’m talking about social media, blogs, and independent publishing, opening up the world for aspiring writers. Because the truth about writing is that besides being remarkable self-therapy, we write because we want to be seen, heard and read and to get your story shared and appreciated, you need to make sure it’s good and for that you need the tools of writing: the grammar, the structure and the voice.
When the tools are in place, the rest is “just” hard work. You don’t need to worry about a stream of rejection letters anymore, because the dream of seeing your name on a book cover is already very achievable thanks to independent publishing and free author platforms like Smashwords, iBooks, Nook, and Amazon Kindle Publishing.
I had been writing magazine articles, journalistic news pieces, advertising copy and radio and TV scripts for some time before I published my novel The Wake-Up Call through Amazon Kindle Publishing and its print division Createspace in September 2011. I tried the traditional publishing route first, but after a couple of encouraging but at the same time deflating rejection letters I decided to try independent publishing. I had no expectations going in but was very positively surprised on how easy the process was.
It wasn’t a success over night but a few months later sales started kicking in and I started getting customer reviews, buzz on different websites and blogs and today The Wake-Up Call has been downloaded as an e-book by almost 40 000 readers – an amazing development that inspires me and makes me put in the extra hours.
Being able to reach out with your writing without having to go through the tough process of a stern publishing house and people meddling with the storyline or the characters, is surely very inspiring and I think the encouragement of people reading, analyzing and offering feedback to what you write is the secret to really developing an interest in creative writing and the wonders it brings. Writing is a lonely task and being able to share experiences, get coaching from a teacher and other aspiring writers is invaluable in developing your voice and your craft. And most of all it’s fun!
When I think back to the good old school years, the most interesting class I ever took was creative writing. It was even exciting to get the editors’ red pen! I guess it was like that because you felt you were building and learning something important, something you could actually use. And looking back it’s the skill I’ve learned in school that I’m most happy about, the skill which has given me the most and which keep on giving every time I sit down by my computer.
Writing is a gift. And it’s definitely worth sharing.