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How did you learn to write?

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Charlie272 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (3) Thanks(3)   Quote Charlie272 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Oct 2019 at 10:46am
Originally posted by lisafox10800 lisafox10800 wrote:


And then there was the New Kids on the Block romance "novella." We won't talk about that one.
.

I kinda think we have to.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (3) Thanks(3)   Quote fioOxf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Oct 2019 at 10:57am
Interesting thread. Sitting here on a Friday afternoon (BST) working back through my life, to find a starting point (rather than working on work). I think this is how it went: 
I was ill for a some months at age 3; my mother was in quarantine with me, so, as a primary school teacher for 'rising 7s', she taught me to read, draw and make pictures from buttons. All three of these key skills I mastered quickly and won both a drawing competition and a button collage competition held by national magazines. Aha, competitive creativity? Why not?
At school, aged 4/5, I was put in the top reading group, as I could read... but then my eyes went wonky, I needed operations and had virtually no sight for a while. This coincided with the latter stages of learning to write, so around age 5/6. Classmates helped me, putting my hand in the correct place on the page and trying to help me follow the lines. I think that started an association between writing and feeling supported/safe. I was also read to a lot at home, so my love of stories was strong. We moved to England, where I was bullied for just about everything. However, I could read so well I was put up a year, and my poems and stories (with accompanying pictures and collages - progress from the buttons) were often on the school walls, and the headmaster used to read them out in school assemblies. So writing and drawing were my antidote to the bullying, my safe place and my pride. When I wrote, I was praised; when I was me, I was bullied. 
More of the same at secondary school, but throw in 3 excellent teachers, getting 'highly commended' in a national poetry competition, several poems published, poems and stories still read out (and still against a backdrop of bullying), and starting a diary at age 13, which I still keep four decades later, and I guess.... Oh, and studying translation as part of my degree, which requires text analysis (including style and voice) and good writing skills. 
I write a lot. For work. For reflection. For others. For pleasure. For fun. It's all good practice and it still feels safe.

I guess I have always wanted to be a writer, so that's what I aimed (and aim) for. I became an educational writer around 18 years ago, so have tens of books published, but not fiction (or poetry), so I want to move more in this direction. I look on these forums as wonderful workshops amongst inspiring people, and beta as much as I can, as I learn from that, too. Still learning. And my immediate ambition is to make it to a round two in one of these pesky NYCM competitions. One day.... :D
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote fioOxf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Oct 2019 at 10:58am
Originally posted by Charlie272 Charlie272 wrote:

Originally posted by lisafox10800 lisafox10800 wrote:


And then there was the New Kids on the Block romance "novella." We won't talk about that one.
.

I kinda think we have to.

LOL  I think mine might have involved Starsky ...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote ChillyToez Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Oct 2019 at 11:06am
Originally posted by Charlie272 Charlie272 wrote:

Originally posted by lisafox10800 lisafox10800 wrote:


And then there was the New Kids on the Block romance "novella." We won't talk about that one.
.

I kinda think we have to.

LOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Charlie272 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Oct 2019 at 11:47am
It’s really interesting to see all the crossovers in all of our stories.
My mother was a writer, and though she didn’t do much of it in my childhood, she encouraged my sister and me.  My sister really took to it, and so I did too, mostly because I just did whatever my sister did.  
When I was about 7, i wrote a book called The Disappearing Kitten.  It was eight pages long, with pictures.  I left it on the shelf at my local library so I could have a book of my own in the library.
I started to take it seriously as a teenager, mostly writing horror.
Around the time that I went to college, my sister veered heavily into fanfic but I went the opposite direction, abandoning my genre roots in favor of mainstream drama.  
I took a bunch of writing classes in college, and while the essay writing one was helpful, the others were only good for teaching me how to handle and evaluate criticism.  
After college I kept writing at first, and trying to get published, but the absence of any audience and the presence of a lot of rejection caused me to lose faith, in myself and the notion, unquestioned since childhood, that becoming a writer was my fate and my destiny.
I explored other creative outlets.  I had a short career as a music producer, and a much longer one as a photographer.  Every now and then I’d write something new, or dust off something older, but I mostly just lamented the demise of my childhood dreams.  Yes, exactly that melodramatically.
Something happened earlier this year.  I was meticulously reading and revising all my existing stories, but still making nothing new, when I remembered that I’d done the short story contest here years ago.  I decided to sign up for whatever was coming up next, which turned out to be Flash, just to see if I could.  And I did.  It’s come back so naturally, it feels like I was never gone.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote LightningBug Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Oct 2019 at 2:37pm
It seems like I started later than most people on this thread! I always loved reading but never even considered that I might be able to write until I was 16. I read "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien in English class, and with a vote of confidence from my wonderful, astonishingly intelligent, tough-as-nails teacher, I decided that's what I wanted to do with my life—try to write as well as Tim O'Brien could. I spent the next two years writing an atrocious fantasy novel and realized by the time I graduated high school that it was going to take years of practice, maybe my entire lifetime, to produce something decent. I read "On Writing" by Stephen King and the good ol' "Elements of Style" by Strunk and White which both helped me immensely with my writing. Other than that, it's just been practice, practice, practice. No way around it!                   
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zelda Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Oct 2019 at 5:58pm
These are great answers!!

Despite my great education with the really good teachers and challenging academic programs, I was never offered creative writing. I seriously graduated college under the impression that creative writing classes didn't exist. I don't know what was up with that. So I'd developed some technical skills but had never written anything fictional. 

I went through a zombified medicated period of six years that took away all my creativity and left me extremely bored. When I came out of it, I got into woodworking and taught myself how to make furniture. This was... 2012. In October of the next year, 2013, I saw an ad for NYC Midnight's short story competition. It stirred something inside of me. "Could I write a short story, just offhand?" I wondered. "Huh." I didn't enter the contest, but I challenged myself to write a short story just for the heck of it, to see if I could. Why not, right? 

The short story I wrote is hilariously bad. It makes me laugh to this day. I shared it with my parents, and they were horrified. I'm not sure why, but the story discusses the acronym behind the F-word, and when the main character shoots her cheating boyfriend in cold blood, she does it like this: "For unlawful carnal knowledge." BANG. Yeah, he died. (And can anyone think of a more stylish way to shoot someone in cold blood?) 

My parents urged me to try to write something more wholesome, and I was out of money for woodworking, so I started writing my Advice Avengers series that month. It really flowed, but my initial drafts had serious issues. I took to the internet and researched tip after tip: don't overuse "says" and "goes." Class titles are only capitalized if it's a language (English class, for example). And I whipped my technical skills back into shape. I redid my initial drafts and made them much better. 

The best thing, though, is that I started getting involved with writing groups and forums, and I've found so many friends that way! Not to mention that we exchange writing tips. (My friend Sonya is an editing prodigy.) So it's been... six years, and writing has enriched my life in countless ways. 


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Stephaleph22 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Oct 2019 at 6:16pm
I've always been a loner by a mix of choice and force. I was an avid reader since I could flip the pages of a big book of nursery rhymes by myself. 
I think we tipped me off that I was a writer was an event in the sixth or seventh grade. 
My English teacher gave us a creative writing project (I dont remember the topic). And, apparently, I chose to write something...dark. 
Now, mind you, my parents are terrific and despite being alone, I was doing okay. I liked to play make believe by myself or read, so most days I was happy to be on my own. 
Anyway, apparently my writing was convincing, and my tea her called my parents to ask if I had been acting strangely or if I showed any worrying signs of psychological issues. My parents assured her that, to their knowledge, I was okay. They talked to me about it and I decided it may have been my reading horror stories at the time that influenced me. 
From then on I figured that if I could convince my teacher that I was a scary character, maybe I could convince others too. 
So I've always jotted gruesome and disturbing story ideas down, bits of a dialogue and things. And when I was old enough, I chose to take creative writing courses at school! 
Now I enter competitions like this and write when I can as practice, and hopefully one day I can finish a real spine-tingler ☺
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote Mickey T Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Oct 2019 at 7:51pm
I'm not sure about the writing, but I know how I learned to tell a story.

I used to role-play a lot as a kid. Before it was cool. Somehow I became the designated Dungeon Master / Game Master / Wrangler of Unruly Players (probably because no-one else wanted the job). Spent way too many hours building worlds and designing characters and outlining plots.

Life moved on. I grew up, got a job, married a remarkable woman, gained a mortgage, became a doting dad. Happy as a clam. But underneath it all was the burning desire to tell stories.

In 2014, our three-year-old daughter died. Sudden, unexpected. We had a six-month-old boy at the time and if it wasn't for his needs I'm not sure I would have made it out of bed in the mornings.

In the wake of our grief, I started to think of all the things my little girl would never experience. She'd never grow up, learn to love or hate, succeed or fail in her pursuits. I decided to realise what I had been putting off for so long: I started telling stories.

All the groundwork had been laid in those childhood role-playing sessions. I was surprised how all the skills—world building, story structure, character design—came flooding back.

The first word I ever wrote was for my daughter. And, I guess, on a deeper level, every word since.


Edited by Mickey T - 11 Oct 2019 at 7:54pm
Short Screenplay 2019 - Round 4: Automata
Short Screenplay 2019 - Round 3: Gnaw
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lisafox10800 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Oct 2019 at 8:24pm
Originally posted by Mickey T Mickey T wrote:

I'm not sure about the writing, but I know how I learned to tell a story.

I used to role-play a lot as a kid. Before it was cool. Somehow I became the designated Dungeon Master / Game Master / Wrangler of Unruly Players (probably because no-one else wanted the job). Spent way too many hours building worlds and designing characters and outlining plots.

Life moved on. I grew up, got a job, married a remarkable woman, gained a mortgage, became a doting dad. Happy as a clam. But underneath it all was the burning desire to tell stories.

In 2014, our three-year-old daughter died. Sudden, unexpected. We had a six-month-old boy at the time and if it wasn't for his needs I'm not sure I would have made it out of bed in the mornings.

In the wake of our grief, I started to think of all the things my little girl would never experience. She'd never grow up, learn to love or hate, succeed or fail in her pursuits. I decided to realise what I had been putting off for so long: I started telling stories.

All the groundwork had been laid in those childhood role-playing sessions. I was surprised how all the skills—world building, story structure, character design—came flooding back.

The first word I ever wrote was for my daughter. And, I guess, on a deeper level, every word since.

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