How To Be A Memorable Writer

July 7, 2010
“Writing exposes what the heart refuses to acknowledge.” –Barbara Ling

There comes a day in every young writer’s life when they just…crack. Not like the holy-crap-my-head-just-imploded kind of crack, but in the I’ve-spent-my life-being-like-everybody-else-and-now-I’m-through-with-this-nonsense kind of way. There comes a day when we’re sick and freaking tired of the little green line in Microsoft Word telling us that we need to consider revising that fragment of a sentence, because clearly it doesn’t fit, the way we haven’t fit for as long as we can remember. And there comes a day when we stop writing for other people and begin writing because we ADORE writing, and because we want the world to know we exist.

“If you don’t control your mind, someone else will.” –John Allston
If you’ve been alive for the past year or two, you’ve seen the dramatic increase of teen vampire novels staring you down at the young adult display at Barnes and Noble. So, first instinct? To write a vampire novel. I mean, obviously if they’re getting published and are good enough for Barnes and Noble to sell them, then people must like them. But that’s what everyone would think. Try this: you’ve read 40 different books about vamps and now you’re ready to move on. And you go and look for a book…and they’re all about vampires. So then, your brain explodes.

You wouldn’t want to be guilty for someone’s brain exploding, would you? So write about something ELSE! Something that hasn’t been written in a long time; better yet…something that hasn’t EVER been written about! And sell it like a diamond ring.

“I guess I’ve spent my whole life listening to what wasn’t being said.” –Eli Khamarov

I don’t know about anyone else, but I like to say things that make people look at me like I’ve gone crazy. I like to talk about insane ideas I have and I like to tell everyone who’ll listen about them without shame. I don’t like to say normal things that make people glaze over while they listen. You can bet your money I’ve been called weird before (in many different forms, believe me). But, these ideas might make me not-so-popular at school, but lots popular when I turn them into a story. So, instead of listening to what people WANT you to write, listen to what YOU want you to write. It’s really there, inside your head just looking for the light in the darkness. Everyone has a story, they’re just too scared to tell it for fear of the weird looks and whispered insults. But you need to be the exception, and you need to write something that leaves people in awe. Something we’ve all thought of but never said. Something that will leave your stakes in history and forever make people remember your name.

“If it matters, it produces controversy.” –Jay Greene

If it makes you mad, you leave feedback, and you tell your friends about how mad it made you. If it makes you cry, you leave feedback, and you tell your friends how sad it made you. If it makes you feel confident, you leave feedback, and you tell your friends how confident it made you feel. All these feelings of indignation and terror and righteousness, they are what makes something controversial. And when you feel something so deeply, it’s not easy to disregard.

So, write something you believe in, that you’ve been afraid of, something that makes steam roll out of people’s ears. Because not only are you sharing what you believe in, you are becoming unforgettable. Don’t be hateful and crude; make sure you allow people their own opinions. Because what’s an argument when everyone agrees? A sappy love poem, that’s what.

“Always act like you’re wearing an invisible crown.” –Paris Hilton

If you spend your life continuously fearing that your writings are no good, then they won’t be. You need to be CONFIDENT! Confidence and arrogance are interchangeable, if you ask me. In this case, both are required. You need confidence because if you don’t use words you’ve never used before, if you don’t write for fear of feedback, and you don’t joke around for fear of a joke falling flat, then you’re going to be boring. Nobody likes a boring writer. You need arrogance because if someone questions your confidence, they don’t need to know you learned this stuff from a high school student…and because it’s fun to think highly of yourself. Now, don’t go around belittling the not-so-writing(ly)-talented folk; they have their skills and you have yours. But know that what you write is awesome and don’t let anyone else get you down.

“You don’t get harmony when everybody sings the same note.” –Doug Floyd

Guilty as charged, I find myself writing like the writer of the most recent book I’ve read. This is a bad, bad thing, and if you do this, you need to stop. If you write like someone else, then you aren’t being yourself. I’m not saying you can’t write a historical fiction because you just read “Pride and Prejudice”, I’m saying you shouldn’t write like you’ve been born and raised in the 19th century if you weren’t (and I’m pretty sure you were not born in 1840). Every writer has a voice: serious, witty, dark, scary, light, romantic, etc. You just need to find yours and stick with it. A lot of people tend to write how they talk when they’re chatting with someone they can be completely themselves with. I count as your writing voice, and I advise you utilize it.

“If there’s a book you really want to read that hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” –Toni Morrison

It appears I’m contradicting my prior words, but worry not; I wouldn’t do that. Y’know those posters they have around the school library, that are all, “READ OR DIE?” Yeah, well, in your case (as a writer) they aren’t joking. Now, are you going to literally crumple to the ground and die? No, but any sense of why you want to write will. Most people want to write for one of the two following reasons: 1) they want to escape from the world, or 2) their English teacher told them they have to. Those of us who wish to pursue writing as a career, or just do it for the heck of it, usually lean towards option number one. Reading is for when we want to escape the world and our computers are broken, or you can’t find a freaking pencil to save your life. Books are to writing as almond milk is to regular milk. It’ll do, but Froot Loops taste better with the latter. Likewise, writing is how we create our own personal vacation, but books show us someone else’s idea of heaven, and we should always keep an open mind.

“If they give you ruled paper, write the other way.” –Juan Ramon Jimenez

I distinctly remember one event of writing-discrimination. It was the first piece of anything we had to write in seventh grade. My English teacher told me I had to rewrite my words because it “told too much of a story.” Now, I was a bit dumbfounded: I thought we were WRITING a story.
I’m sure most people have had similar happenings. At school, they tell you writing is a form of self expression. Then, they tell you to write a personal experience paragraph (Oh, how I loathe personal experience papers) and mark you down if you didn’t following the grading rubric. If this isn’t a cruel form of contradiction, then I do not know what is.

Now I challenge you. Like a slumber party round of truth or dare, obviously you don’t have to do anything I tell you, and the consequences are your problem if you keep going, but here it is: Don’t write what your teachers tell you to write. If they say the poem has to have 14 syllables in the third line, forget the limits. You can’t show yourself to the world if you’re constantly restrained in the shadows.

They tell you to write a haiku? Write a limerick (whatever that is)! Remember there are bound to be grades lost, you might get laughed at, and people might think you’re a blazing idiot, but you’re not.

You’re a free spirited writer and you're on your way to the top.

Join the Discussion

This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

pandafyre This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 27, 2010 at 10:39 pm
I think the quote goes both ways :) Keep writing.
pandafyre This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 27, 2010 at 10:26 pm
"Read what you want to write." That's my favorite quote, and you get it, I think. There are reasons for the rules but there are reasons to break the rules. In my opinion "too much of a story" is a compliment, and you deserve it.
HIPPIEatHEART_writerINsoul This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jul. 27, 2010 at 10:37 pm

Thanks so much for commenting!

I like the "Read what you want to write quote."

Which reminds me of..."Write what you want to read." :)

Thanks again!

HIPPIEatHEART_writerINsoul This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jul. 27, 2010 at 10:39 pm

Oops, misplaced quotation mark.

**"Read what you want to write." quote.


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