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How did you learn to write?

Printed From: NYC Midnight : Creative Writing & Screenwriting
Category: GENERAL DISCUSSION
Forum Name: Creative Writing Corner
Forum Description: Discuss NYC Midnight Creative Writing Competitions or Creative Writing in general.
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Topic: How did you learn to write?
Posted By: Zelda
Subject: How did you learn to write?
Date Posted: 11 Oct 2019 at 12:13am
Time for a happy writer's question!! How did you learn to write? I'd ask how you've "honed your craft," but I think that's so silly sounding! Big smile Let's please not hone. 

I learned to write as a middle school student who was passionate about her diary. I wanted to take whatever I experienced and narrate it, like he said this, and then this happened, and then I replied by saying whatever; and I'd write it like a book--like, literally, with dialogue and everything. It mattered to me (for unknown reasons) that I have perfect grammar and spelling. 

In school, I'd pay attention to my teacher's comments on my papers. I had a mind for it, even though subjects like science and social studies tended to do me in. I had equally good teachers in those subjects, but it wasn't going to happen. Not at all. 

I kept keeping my diaries, and when the age of internet came along, I started writing long emails to people in which I practiced the same writing basics. 

How did the rest of you learn to write? 


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Replies:
Posted By: manifestlynot
Date Posted: 11 Oct 2019 at 1:35am
I entered my first writing contest in kindergarten and never looked back. I won first place that year and every elementary year after that, except for third grade when I didn’t score at all but still walked on stage a la Zoolander. Compared to that humiliation, collecting zeroes here is nothing!

But that’s more about how I learned to write competitively; how I actually learned to write was in 11th grade AP Composition. On the first day of school I turned in my summer assignment: a 15 page of gobbledegook that my teacher was kind enough to give me a C on. I had always been able to dazzle teachers with flowery language and wordiness, but not this one. We learned how to write an academic paper from the ground up, and I learned how to truly write for the correct audience.

In college I learned how to write collaboratively in creative writing workshops, and how to tell when criticism was constructive versus dismissive. I eventually went toward education and now work as a content writer in an educational company, which is a nice blend of my two passions. But my heart will always lie in creative writing - especially the competitive part of my heart Wink


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Posted By: chrissie0707
Date Posted: 11 Oct 2019 at 6:06am
I was a super dramatic and emo high schooler (i had pink hair and pleather pants...aaah, the late 90s/early 00s). I started journaling the EPIC trials of my teenage life, which turned to writing some seriously depressing songs and poems. Senior year I took creative writing, and that’s when I was finally like “hey I like this writing thing.” At the same time, I was also an artist. Always had been. 

I entered college as a fine arts major, but after one semester of Drawing and being given homework of drawing three pages of straight lines over and over (and being given a C grade when I’d spent the previous decade winning contests and awards for my art) the flame of my artistic passion was snuffed. For about two years, I didn’t much of anything creative. My mom got horribly sick, I had to miss a semester of my sophomore year, and I fell into a very real funk. During the break, I discovered this marvelous little thing called fan fiction. Completely by accident. And I thought to myself, Self, you get waaay too obsessed with TV shows and characters and remember that writing thing you started to like? What if YOU did this fanfiction thing? I then proceeded to spend nearly every moment of free time I had between classes writing stories in emails to myself in IU’s library, or staying up until 3AM banging away at my keyboard. I made my first group of friends who enjoyed and encouraged my writing, and I shifted my educational track toward this newfound passion. I’ve always liked to say my creative flow just switched lanes. I started pursuing a degree in Telecommunications with a focus on Design and Production, with the intent of writing for TV. Maybe directing. In a TV Production class, I led a group and pitched, wrote, and directed a two-minute scene as though it were being filmed as a live sitcom. Such a high. I took a Screenwriting class, and started turning some of my fanfics into spec scripts. 

Then I graduated and realized I was gonna need money to survive, and accepted a steady paycheck over actually pursuing this dream of mine. But I kept writing fanfiction, and eventually I found a second group of awesome people who not only enjoyed my writing, but now challenged me to write better, and differently. This is when I would say I actually started BECOMING a writer, about five years ago. My two closest friends began writing original novels, and I sort of hung back, desperate for the same sorts of ideas. I had nothing. I was a quasi-popular fanfiction writer, but could I actually be an AUTHOR?? I had a rough time with these thoughts, and resigned to myself that if my purpose as a writer, of the whole point of whatever talent I had was to help my best friends achieve their own writing goals, then I was okay with that. 

No joke, within DAYS, I had the fabled shower epiphany ORIGINAL NOVEL IDEA. And then a week later, I found these comps. And now I have like NINE original stories I’ve written, and one has been PUBLISHED, and I have a DRAFT of the first novel of my own original trilogy (and lots more fanfiction on the side :P)

That might have been too much information. I’m not quite awake yet. 


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Posted By: Metchr
Date Posted: 11 Oct 2019 at 6:33am
I used to draw as a child. Not the usual drawings but full scale science fiction battles. In the fifth grade I was introduced to Tolkien and I became a voracious reader. In middle school I was required to maintain a journal. Instead of writing short unrelated entries, I wrote a 30 page story; I was recognized by the English department at the end of the year awards in 8th grade as the most creative writer in the school.
In college, I started in engineering but returned to my English roots and earned a degree in teaching English. But writing just remained a fun past time. At my first teaching job, I created an in-school literary magazine to help at-risk students express themselves,,,and so on. I have been in education for over 27 years and have used my skills to encourage students to write not just for the required courses but for the love of writing.

For me, this contest has reignited a spark. Who knows where it will go from here. Maybe I will finally tackle the book that has been simmering in the recesses of my mind.    


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Posted By: ChillyToez
Date Posted: 11 Oct 2019 at 7:47am
Originally posted by chrissie0707 chrissie0707 wrote:

(i had pink hair and pleather pants...aaah, the late 90s/early 00s). 

Is it creepy to say that this little penguin now has a wee crush on you (in the most non-stalkery way I know how?) Ah, the days of wild hair & pleather pants. Late 90's for me was black dyed hair, a nose ring, & black eye-liner...but I also had pleather pants. LOL


How did I learn to write? I read. A lot. It's a whole other discussion about how reading changed my worldview, but it was certainly a catalyst to trying my hand at writing about 4 years ago.

So, I wrote. And read some more. And wrote some more. Compared, perhaps not analytically, but instinctively, the things I wrote to the things I read. And just practiced some more.

And here we are, still practicing, receiving & weighing feedback, and trying again tomorrow... hopefully getting a little better each time.




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Posted By: chrissie0707
Date Posted: 11 Oct 2019 at 7:53am
Originally posted by ChillyToez ChillyToez wrote:

Originally posted by chrissie0707 chrissie0707 wrote:

(i had pink hair and pleather pants...aaah, the late 90s/early 00s). 

Is it creepy to say that this little penguin now has a wee crush on you (in the most non-stalkery way I know how?) Ah, the days of wild hair & pleather pants. Late 90's for me was black dyed hair, a nose ring, & black eye-liner...but I also had pleather pants. LOL

Big smile I had a black pair and a GOLD pair and I LIVED out of Hot Topic and thought I was just the coolest thing. My parents didn’t appreciate how cool and punk I was. LOLLOL


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Posted By: justmel
Date Posted: 11 Oct 2019 at 8:19am
It's hard to answer this because my first thought was, I didn't learn to write.  I'm still learning.
 
But in the vein of the other responses: My fifth grade teacher got me started.  She didn't provide a lot of critique or guidance, but she gave us a weekly prompt that always sparked my imagination, and she loved the stories I wound up producing and told me I was going to be (or should be?) a writer. 
 
Then I took creative writing in high school and loved it, and then I took it in college and loved it just as much, if not more.  But I didn't get much instruction, honestly, in either class--not regarding how to bring a story to life with description and "showing and not telling" and so on.  I wish I had.  Those are things I'm still working on, on my own.  Dialogue comes pretty naturally to me, I think in part because I started keeping a journal while I was still in elementary school (around 1970) and I would write down entire conversations from memory.  Everything anyone said was fodder for my "story" about the day.  I originally wrote in mottled black and white composition notebooks (a la Harriet the Spy) but since about 1995 it's been almost exclusively in digital files, many of which have been lost over the years.
 
And I've always been a voracious reader.  I think you can't write if you don't read, and if you don't read widely, you probably won't write well


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Posted By: JeanlucPIc
Date Posted: 11 Oct 2019 at 9:19am
I feel like I am just learning now.

I have been drawn to humour and satire since I was a kid, and have worked very hard at getting better as a comedy writer since I was a teenager. It has meant writing for radio and TV shows, as well as hundreds of commercials and speeches. That type of writing comes naturally to me and I have just focused on *ahem* honing. 

I stumbled on the flash fiction competition and decided I would try to learn something new (I am in my 40s and not too old to pick up a new skill). 

Suspense: EXHAUSTING!
Ghost Story: CONFUSING 
Crime Caper: FUN! FUN! FUN!
Response to "Open Letter to White People" thread: NOPE (even though I had a thoughtful point of view, there's just some genres that I have not learned yet.)

- Michael 


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Posted By: lisafox10800
Date Posted: 11 Oct 2019 at 10:03am
(Thank you for this thread, @Zelda!)

Like many others, I started my writing journey as a reader. When I was very young (fourth grade?) my godmother would pass me her Readers' Digest Condensed Books to keep me occupied. She'd sit on one side of the couch reading, me on the other side, totally engrossed in the pages. Also in fourth grade, I was given a diary for my birthday by my teacher, Sister Mary Ellen. I wrote in it every day, and about four or five journals later, kept going through college.

And then there was "Composition" class in elementary school. My favorite time of the week. 

And then the poetry started in high school. I wrote hundreds of pieces - all so very dark. I'm too old to be called "emo" but I definitely fit that definition back then, and throughout college.

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

In college, I majored in journalism. I hung out in the basement of the Student Center at the newspaper office, where I was Features Editor. I spent many, many late nights working on the literary magazine - even had my own issue senior year. Took a creative writing class and my teacher hated every single thing I wrote. But I kept going.

Then real life hit. I was told that I couldn't be a professional poet and I needed to get a real job. It crushed me and I turned to corporate America for comfort. Threw all my energy into climbing the ladder. Threw away any aspirations of creative writing.

Then 40 hit. And my midlife crisis. And an ad for NYCM on Facebook. Absolute divine intervention because I never click on Facebook ads. I entered FFC in 2016, held my breath as I posted my story on the forum, and marveled at just how helpful everyone was with their constructive criticism. These people really knew their stuff. I drank in every comment, and applied my learnings to each and every piece thereafter. And still do. 

Because I'm still learning how to write. I think I always will be. But, boy, the journey has been fun.


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Posted By: jennifer.quail
Date Posted: 11 Oct 2019 at 10:18am
I just wrote. I started writing in second or third grade (third, I think) writing down a dream I had. That was around the time, I think, I figured out writing was a job people did, books didn't just appear (I was and am a bookworm and read constantly.) I got a little elementary-school-district fame because I wrote to my favorite author, Marguerite Henry ("Misty of Chincoteague" etc) after reading her books A Pictorial Life Story of Misty and Dear Readers and Riders, where I sort of grasped for the first time this was what she DID: sit at her table and write stories that people read. Mrs. Henry very kindly sent a personal letter, answering a lot of my questions, and even sent a photo I'd asked for of her and Misty and Friday. The idea that this was what she DID was just mindboggling, so I kept writing things--fan fic, stories about me and my friends in the vein of Saddle Club (did I mention I was also horse-crazy?)

In high school, I blew through Creative Writing and was already writing "novels" in notebooks (protip: if you're 14, don't try to be Allan Drury. You're not.) One of my English teachers let me do an independent study senior year where I spent the class period working on my writing. 

College was a bit harder--I didn't major in English as it didn't seem very useful, though if we had minors I probably would have had one by the time I was done. I was crushed not to get into creative writing freshman year (you had to 'audition' and it was very hard for any freshman to be accepted) but I did get in junior and senior year, which was excellent both for forcing me out of my genre comfort zone as one professor did not permit 'genre' work of any kind and getting critiqued in a group. 

After that, I kept writing, including my first sale while in grad school (a vampire story), and just picked away at things. I don't know that at any point I "learned" to write as much as I just started and got better with practice. 


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Posted By: Charlie272
Date 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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Posted By: fioOxf
Date 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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Posted By: fioOxf
Date 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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Posted By: ChillyToez
Date 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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Posted By: Charlie272
Date 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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Posted By: LightningBug
Date 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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Posted By: Zelda
Date 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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Posted By: Stephaleph22
Date 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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Posted By: Mickey T
Date 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.


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Posted By: lisafox10800
Date 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.

Mickey T  Heart


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Posted By: lisafox10800
Date Posted: 11 Oct 2019 at 8:26pm
Originally posted by ChillyToez ChillyToez wrote:

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

There may have also been a documentary. Maybe. 

But I'll never tell. 

Just gonna keep hangin' tough.


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Posted By: Zelda
Date Posted: 11 Oct 2019 at 8:36pm
Originally posted by Mickey T Mickey T wrote:


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

Oh, God bless. CryBroken Heart


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Posted By: ChillyToez
Date Posted: 11 Oct 2019 at 8:40pm
Originally posted by lisafox10800 lisafox10800 wrote:


There may have also been a documentary. Maybe. 

But I'll never tell. 

Just gonna keep hangin' tough.

You’re my favorite. 

While we are not disclosing things, I’ll not mention the attempt at erotica my 15 year old self or may not have written. 

When my mother found it under my bed, I may have told her all writers wrote sex scenes & I needed to know how to do it. This was in a brief Maybe-I’ll-Be-A-Writer phase but I might have been embarrassed out of it, because I didn’t write again for decades. 



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Posted By: LaissezFaire
Date Posted: 11 Oct 2019 at 8:44pm
Wrote or read something every day from age 10 to mid twenties, then didn't write or read much of anything until 30-something. The usual: bad poetry, harlequin smut, angst, super tall characters. Still have some of them, my mom threw away my purple folder with all my precious writerly stuff in it. Still haven't forgiven her for that.    Tried to write in my mid late 30s and couldn't find the energy. Then didn't write until around age 40 and found it really hard. Never submitted anywhere just wrote. Did a LOT of writing when I played MOO's and MUCKs in my 20s and 30s when I wasn't hack and slashing on MUDs. It also improved my typing skills tremendously :)

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Posted By: lisafox10800
Date Posted: 11 Oct 2019 at 8:46pm
LOL
Originally posted by ChillyToez ChillyToez wrote:

Originally posted by lisafox10800 lisafox10800 wrote:


There may have also been a documentary. Maybe. 

But I'll never tell. 

Just gonna keep hangin' tough.

You’re my favorite. 

While we are not disclosing things, I’ll not mention the attempt at erotica my 15 year old self or may not have written. 

When my mother found it under my bed, I may have told her all writers wrote sex scenes & I needed to know how to do it. This was in a brief Maybe-I’ll-Be-A-Writer phase but I might have been embarrassed out of it, because I didn’t write again for decades. 


Embarrassed LOL Shocked


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Posted By: sootfoot5
Date Posted: 12 Oct 2019 at 11:13am
While we're NOT talking about porn, I won't mention that when I was 14 I wrote comic pornographic poetry involving my teachers and passed it around during class.  

My popularity rose 3 levels that day.  

When one of the poems was confiscated, the school was too embarrassed to do anything but give me detention.  

Not that this actually happened.  

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Posted By: orion323
Date Posted: 12 Oct 2019 at 3:56pm
I love these kinds of threads so much because it's like a tiny peephole through Oz's curtain Heart

Mickey T- I would suffocate you with a gynormous hug if I could.  Thank you for sharing something so personal with so much grace.

I guess my writing story is nerdy.  I somehow learned to read when I was 3.  Just picked up a book one day and the words made sense.  They skipped me a couple of grades (this was back in the early 80's when K-1 grades were basically learning the alphabet and nap time...they start variations of algebra now so I'm sure it would've looked different for me in this day and age).

I was, and still am, a teeny wood nymph and (at the time) I guess I had a full-on Little Rascal's Froggy voice. The first week of school my teacher sent me home with a note telling my parents to take me to a doctor because my voice was "annoying".  I read the note on my way home and basically just stopped talking after that.  Never occurred to me why my family had been calling me Yoda...lol

So I spent my time reading books and writing little stories.  They let me spend recess and lunch in the library after quickly learning that Red Rover/Dodgeball/tetherball were not conducive to the well being of my facial bony structure.

It was a strange blessing growing up quietly because I learned how to listen and observe life.  Both of those things have really made me who I am and really manifest in what I write.

I went to a women's college (best thing for someone like me) and finally started using my voice.  I fronted a punk band because my voice became more Stevie Nicks as I got older (sidenote:  didn't know it until afterwards but our drummer, Ludi Kohoutek, is Deep Throat/Mark Felt's grandson...amayyyyyzing musician and the most delightfully random human being on this planet.  One of my all time faves).

Started doing open mic's and spoken word stuff and then the Slam Poetry scene sparkled its way into Berkeley in the mid 90's.  At the time it was the closest thing to the Beat/City Lights world that I think we'll ever conjure.  Very different scene in the beginning.  Just a bunch of writers bumbling their way through finding a way to share what they had to offer.  On any given night, someone would bring the tiny crowd to tears and it was just magical.

I guess I'm much like all of you.  More goth than emo at the time and had pretty much everything pierced that couldn't be tattooed.

The world changed somehow (for me anyways) in the early-mid 2000's and stopped making sense.  Most of the people I knew in that era moved away, dropped off the grid, or killed themselves.  I retreated back into silence.  I kept writing and would scotch tape things to my walls but never did much more than that.  

A friend sent me the link to NYC a while ago.  It took me a couple of years to actually act on it and I'm glad I did.  I'm hypersensitive to some of the darker turns the forum takes, but I love seeing how everyone's minds work and what they are able to paint with such random prompts.

Microfiction was really fun for me and that may be because I finally got a genre I dig (drama) and was able to use a true story as its core.  Stephaleph- I'm a bit of loner too (Dottie) and rather than dark my stories tend to lean on the sad side.  This one made my fella cry so I'm hoping it resonates with the judges.  

Thank you all again for sharing your stories...both the real life ones and the ones you create here






Posted By: NKurt
Date Posted: 12 Oct 2019 at 6:58pm
Fun topic!

Like everyone else, I always enjoyed reading and writing as a child. I have a distinct memory of winning a whole school writing award in Grade 5 and my teacher telling me I deserved it. High School I mainly wrote poetry and short stories. I spent a lot of time on the old mxtabs forum and tried my hand at different forms of songwriting.

After High School I had a brief period where I really fell in love with short story writing. Life got pretty busy though and for a long time I didn't write at all. 

I did my Bachelor of Education and became a teacher. The real kicker for my writing came when I had a class who just didn't want to read. The remedy for this was simple- write a story where the class members were characters. I got to work and each day I would put a page up on the whiteboard. It was all a big hit and the students had no idea who the mystery author was. At the end of the year, the Principal told me the school would be happy to publish copies of my book for each of the students. It ended up being a 30k word novella and was my first success at something over the 5k word range.

That was the motivation I needed. After that I joined 'scribophile.com' and received some great feedback on some of my flaws from the writing community there, I went through Brandon Sandersons fantasy writing course on YouTube and regularly listen to the Writing Excuses podcast. I bought and read a bunch of books on writing (On Writing, coincidentally being one of them) and basically got my butt into gear. Since then I've won some competitions, had some short pieces published, written an 80k YA fantasy novel and currently am 41k words into the second book in that series (it's a planned trilogy).

Keeping all that in mind, I'd say 80% of my writing development has come in the past 18 months. I'm excited to see where it goes next! :) 


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Posted By: dennymike
Date Posted: 19 Oct 2019 at 9:48pm
I started writing with the help of my mother. As a way to learn my vocabulary words for the week, we would sit down and write a short story using all of my words. It was a challenge and forced me to learn to be creative. My mom also encouraged me to be an avid reader so at some point in middle school I decided "I can do that too" and started to write stories. I was really into RL Stine at the time, Goosebumps and Fear Street, so they were all those type of stories. My first was about a killer substitute teacher titled "Sub Zero." In high school I wrote several stories as assignments. One for a final project in a history class and several in English. 

I have always been a writing, and there hasn't been a time in my life since high school that I have not been currently working on something. I have a few early finished projects, but nothing lately. I blame not having time, but really it's that I'm afraid of rejection. But I have recently decided that, come hell or high water, I am going to finish something and submit it for publishing, whether to a company or self-publishing, I have yet to decide, but it will be done.


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Posted By: tcFlash
Date Posted: 22 Oct 2019 at 12:51pm
I would not have learned to write if I never shared my work with people who tell me the truth. On my regular site, the comments might lead you to believe I'm Hemingway resurrected. Seriously, I get only praise and no real feedback. But that's the nature of the site. I've had two situations where I got true feedback, and this forum is one of them. When I got here in 2014, people were nice, but they also told me how to improve my writing. Believe me, there was plenty of room for improvement. I simply took one or two things from each challenge and worked on it until the next challenge. Here are some things this forum beat out of me/beat into me.
  1. Understanding when to use passive voice (Which is rarely). In this latest challenge, I opened with passive.
  2. Reduced the use of adverbs. (They have their place just as passive voice has its place).
  3. Replaced "as" phrases with and, semicolon, or a period. (Same with while).
  4. Learned how to use the comma, especially the Oxford comma. 
  5. Show, don't tell...or rather know when to show and when to tell. This challenge, my story has a lot of telling, but I wouldn't change most of it. 
  6. Dropped phrases like began to and started to.
  7. Writing memorable opening and ending lines. 
Things like these transformed my writing, and I learned all of them here. 
 



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Posted By: Phobos
Date Posted: 24 Oct 2019 at 1:28pm
Apparently, I don't really know how to write, so I'll consider this as my opportunity.  

In the past, especially late teens/early twenties in college, I wrote poems, little short stories, edited things for people, and huge diatribes on social media.  I've had ideas for stories for forever and I'll run them by my wife and she'll say, "That sounds awesome.  You should write it down.", but I haven't so far.  

What started me actually trying was that we took in a teenage foster son and his English class had him write out a two-page story using the classic elements.  It was just a blow-off assignment for him, but I started doing serious research for a story and it has ballooned into this massive concept for a series of fantasy novels ... that may never reach a shelf or digital bookstore ...

I'll say, this competition has been both encouraging and discouraging, the feedback from both fellow competitors and the judges has been humbling to say the least.  

As my college roommate's marketing book said, 
"Your mother may believe that you are the greatest person on the planet, but a prospective employer may form a different conclusion."


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Posted By: Fabala
Date Posted: 28 Oct 2019 at 5:56pm
Probably just from...reading. Voraciously. Often. I can't remember a time when I didn't love reading, and didn't love writing. 

At its core, it's probably due to my parents both loving reading and writing as well. And aside from them, it's my second grade teacher. I tore through the readers so quickly she couldn't keep up with me. I finished everything in our year, and every year past that. When she ran out of readers she gave up and started giving me novels instead. Likewise, she noted I enjoyed writing. Instead of forcing me to stick to assigned word limits, she let me go, knowing I would better produce unfettered.

When I had to leave the class because my family was moving to another state, she gave me Bridge to Terabithia as a parting gift. I still have it, complete with her kind words of encouragement.

Thank you, Mrs. Fasano.


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Posted By: AineKnees
Date Posted: 31 Oct 2019 at 7:59am
I loved reading, I can still remember vividly realising I could read, aged 3, when I was asking my mother to read me a story and she said "What does it say on the front? Read it yourself!" (as she was busy). Disappointed, I opened the book and then to my amazement I realised I COULD read it myself. From then on there was no stopping me with reading. When everyone else was learning in p1, I got to take whatever books I wanted home out of the class storeroom... one I remember vividly is "The Little Old Man Who Could Not Read"  https://www.amazon.com/Little-Old-Man-Could-Read/dp/1930900848" rel="nofollow - https://www.amazon.com/Little-Old-Man-Could-Read/dp/1930900848

I quickly found out that I loved writing stories creatively, it was my favourite thing as a child, and the teachers enjoyed my stories. As a child I was sure I was going to be an author, or a vet, or perhaps the first woman on Mars. I won a prize for a poem when I was in p5. Everything I wrote was in response to getting asked to write it as part of my school work. Luckily we seemed to do a fair bit of creative writing. Sadly I don't have a copy of any of my stories from primary school, although I did find an old tape of me reading one of my ghost stories aged about 10 or so. 

I started writing a diary aged 13 and kept this up all through my teens and sporadically on and off in my adult life (I like journalling on Penzu now). My diaries from my teenage years are sometimes hilarious and sometimes shocking. Mind you they weren't written with any great style. (One entry was "I hate my mother!" written in my own blood after cutting my arm, oh the angst! LOL)

In grammar school (the school you went to from 12-18 in the UK if you passed the 11plus test), I continued to write creatively but sporadically, always just in response to a school assignment. The focus changed a lot to essays in English lit, R.E and other subjects and I always did well in these (one time I remember doing FIVE pieces of GCSE coursework on the one night... the last possible night as the deadline was the next day... and getting As on all of them!). But creatively a few things happened. I wrote a children's storybook and I did a parody of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. (I still have this and it is hilarious reading it back because of all the 80s references!). I did this in 2nd year, so aged 13, but it was good enough to use a couple of years later as my GCSE coursework (I just rubbed out the previous teacher's mark and pretended I'd done it fresh! Always lazy...) I had totally forgotten til recently just how much my teachers loved this piece of work and I also completely forgot that my GCSE teacher read it out to the class over a couple of days... until a couple of years ago at my school reunion, a girl came up to me and said "Áine, I always remember that Snow White story of yours, it was so hilarious! You are a storyteller!" 
Also around this time I wrote a poem about the Vietnam war that won another prize. 

So then A levels started, and thereafter uni. My creative writing diminished further. I did A level English lit and did English and Philosophy in Uni (for a bit until I dropped out because I was just basically partying too much and not attending class) and I found that it was all essays about the works of the great masters. I could still churn out a good essay for English or Philosophy but I think from studying all the literary greats I got this view that I was nothing compared to them so what even was the point? Also, all the work I ever did was in response to having to do it for school. I basically at this stage of my life now dropped out of uni and worked and partied hard and I did that for years. I still kept diaries sometimes or wrote letters but I didn't write creatively at all for a long time. 

A few things in the background inspired me or worked on my subconscious... one was that my uncle, who all through my childhood had had a huge alcohol problem, overcame that and started to write (or maybe the writing helped him overcome it) despite leaving school at 14 and not having much education.  http://www.jpmcmenamin.co.uk/index.html" rel="nofollow - http://www.jpmcmenamin.co.uk/index.html  He found himself in writing poems, funny articles  and jokes that he used to send in to various comedy programmes, and he became well known in Northern Ireland (even though he was a hermit and shunned publicitiy) as his funny stories and poems became a daily feature on the Gerry Anderson show on Ulster radio. His masterpiece was, in my opinion, the novel "A Drunken Day in the Drunken Life of Arthur "Rectum" O'Neill" which he self published (yes it needs editing and proof read but it's hilarious and sad and of course my uncle is the main character... that is not him on the front cover though!)  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Drunken-Day-Life-Arthur-ONeill/dp/B06WWJX5HF" rel="nofollow - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Drunken-Day-Life-Arthur-ONeill/dp/B06WWJX5HF

I calmed down on the hedonism front as I matured and got bored of it and I also hated being addicted to anything (my phone is pissing me off at the minute because it's a terrible addiction!), so I quit drinking and all the other carry-on quite a while back. I still hadn't got back into writing but I had a recurring dream that I killed this girl and buried her body in my garden. The guilt was horrendous and I woke up thinking "I know what it is like to kill someone and feel that guilt". I had it again years later, this time the girl walked into my childhood bedroom and I grabbed her by the throat and accidentally killed her. This time I dragged her body, with the help of my dad, into the coal bunker and covered her cold white body with coal, all the while feeling horrendously guilty. 

When I thought about the meaning of this it came to me that I had killed off the creative writing side of myself... the reason my dad was complicit was he'd done the same to himself... he'd always wanted to write a book and felt all through his younger days drinking that he was gathering stories ... but he never put them to paper, just kept socialising and drinking (my uncle John was my dad's brother). My uncle has passed away now and my dad still loves to drink and probably won't put pen to paper at this stage! 

Meanwhile at some stage my brother, who is an actor, started writing a book and I was the only person he showed it to at that delicate stage when he was still writing it. I thought it was brilliant and encouraged him and it got published... his second novel which will be very different, about the time of partition in Ireland, and is coming out to coincide with the centenary of that time of history. Here is his first novel:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32057978-skintown?from_search=true" rel="nofollow - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32057978-skintown?from_search=true

I also then found an old box of childhood bits and bobs in my mother's house and as I sorted through stuff I hadn't seen since school I remember thinking with shock "I am a writer!"... because I realised that even back then, my favourite way to express myself was writing. Unfortunately my mother hadn't kept many of my stories, but those she had I enjoyed re-reading and realised were quite good. There were also the notes I passed to friends in school and other funny things... letters and so on. It was a bit of an eye opener. Oh yes my Snow White and the Seven Dwarves story was in there, I thought it was lost... and this was very shortly after the comment at my school reunion where my classmate remembered it getting read out. 

Then last year I saw the ad for the NYC short story competition on facebook and thought "f**k it" and entered it. So I was 44 then (45 now) and hadn't written creatively since school really apart from a few aborted efforts over the years and some beginnings of stories. I found that the format really suited me... the prompts and the genre being given got my creative juices flowing! And of course the crucial thing for a chronic procrastinator... a deadline! 

Really I've never been taught to write and the biggest learning curve that I am having with writing is this competition because for the first time I'm getting constructive criticism and tips! It's fantastic. I also realise now that for any art to improve you've got to practice it. I am a musician so I understand this concept- I had to practice A LOT for many years to get grade 8 on cello and piano. The funniest thing is that, even though teaching music is my job; in my heart writing stories has ALWAYS been more of a passion to me and always more of an innate skill than playing music, even though I sadly neglected it for so long. So really now I feel that since I started with NYC last year, I am really near the start of my writing journey, and if I just keep going, I will get better and write more stories.


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Posted By: AineKnees
Date Posted: 31 Oct 2019 at 10:04am
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.

Mickey T, that is the most heartbreaking and also the most beautiful reason for writing that I've heard of. 
Big hugs xx


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Posted By: Zelda
Date Posted: 31 Oct 2019 at 11:06am
Originally posted by AineKnees AineKnees wrote:

My diaries from my teenage years are sometimes hilarious and sometimes shocking. Mind you they weren't written with any great style. (One entry was "I hate my mother!" written in my own blood after cutting my arm, oh the angst! LOL)

Is it really, really sad that I can relate to this on several levels? My mother, I'll tell ya... 

I loved your vibrant post!! Star


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Posted By: Snarkmaiden
Date Posted: 15 May 2020 at 12:27pm
Fanfic. Dragonriders of Pern. You know the thing about having to write a million words before you get any good? That.

jennifer.quail and LaurieH will attest to it, since they betaed most of my output!


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Posted By: jennifer.quail
Date Posted: 15 May 2020 at 3:32pm
Originally posted by Snarkmaiden Snarkmaiden wrote:

Fanfic. Dragonriders of Pern. You know the thing about having to write a million words before you get any good? That.

jennifer.quail and LaurieH will attest to it, since they betaed most of my output!

Dragonchoice is better than anything Anne McCaffrey's kids have yet produced as sequels. This is a hill I will die on. 

(And I second fan fic. I swear I am going to finish the Star Wars series I began in 1994 that's over 350,000 words and is not quite done yet. In my defense that includes a fifteen-year break between chapter 10 and 11 of the second story. I'm not THAT slow.)


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FFC 2020 Ch 1 Gr 21: Cellared
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Posted By: north_north_west
Date Posted: 15 May 2020 at 3:34pm
This is a great thread!  Let me add my education as a storyteller.  Or a budding storyteller, anyway.

When I was a child, I shared a room with a sibling and for years, I would tell stories every night,as we went to sleep.  As I recall, it focused largely on slapstick comedy and scatological humor, as befitting our 8-year-old selves.

Fast forward thirty years, and I was telling stories to my own children.   One of them was interested until he was eleven, but my daughter still wanted me to tell her stories until a year ago, when she was thirteen.   I created an entire imaginary superhero world, with heros, villains, weaknesses, recurring tropes, comic characters, in which of course the most bad-assed of the heros were named after the kids.  It taught me a lot about plot and pacing and suspense, and the power of surprise endings.

Now, my daughter is very interested in writing and writes all the time.  She's entered the microfiction contest as well! 
  


Posted By: StayUpLateCreate
Date Posted: 15 May 2020 at 6:53pm
My mom thought my twin sister and I had no imagination. As my brother would fly across the room holding up Star Trek toys and making them go into epic battles, spit flying from his mouth as he made all the sound effects, my mom would turn to us and express how much she wished we would pretend. It was good for our brains, she said. I wasn't interested in looking as silly as my brother in order to develop my brain. I thought "imagination" was specifically acting out a battle. Years later, I realized in fact, I had a very strong imagination. As a child, I spent entire summer days strolling around our farm, searching for arrowheads, and crossing creeks, imagining I was in another time and place with an entire plot in my head. The whole story could happen without acting out anything. The plots then were very simple. As I got older, they began to have more meaningful themes. They always related to something I had experienced.

Kentucky high schools require the development of a writer's portfolio that is judged by other English teachers outside your school. I learned the basic elements of writing in producing my portfolio. My mom is an excellent writer and really taught me the most as she helped me improve my pieces. She learned that I did have an imagination. I received the highest possible ranking a student could get, but now, those pieces are a bit silly to read. They weren't the best.

I became a professional ballerina after high school. I always wrote on the side. A simple interaction, especially ones that I couldn't understand, exploded into stories where I tried to explain those interactions. I wrote many short stories while I danced. I was on a very strict diet of 900 calories a day as a dancer, dancing eight hours a day and working at a restaurant after that until 1 a.m. I was told I wasn't trying hard enough to have the ideal body. My self-esteem was very low but I was lonely. I ended up in a very toxic relationship with an alcoholic. It was not a very happy life, and writing was my escape. I eventually wanted to eat like a normal human and quit ballet right after being promised promotion.

I took a year to apply to undergrad. I still had my alcoholic boyfriend, who would get irrationally angry when drunk and showed many signs of cheating. I tended to work at the restaurant at night while he worked during the day. We didn't interact that much. I spent my days in another world I invented on paper. I wrote an anthology of poems and short stories . I posted this series on a HarperCollins amateur writers website for feedback and the possibility of getting published by that route. If a work made top ten by the end of the month, HarperCollins would look at it and consider it for publication. Due to notice by a group of Oxford scholars, my anthology rose from 20,000th place up to 12 but never any higher. Someone chimed in they would take one of the concepts from one of my stories and write it better, so thanks for giving them a good plot. I quickly got off the site and grew bitter. I got busy with undergrad. I got a degree in chemical engineering.

I'm now getting a PhD in chemical engineering. I'm in a very happy relationship. I actually have time to breathe. Never before these past few years had I walked on sidewalks so much. There are plenty of unique but brief interactions with others that have inspired my imagination once again. 


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Cass


Posted By: RichmondRoad
Date Posted: 15 May 2020 at 8:35pm
My grandfather was a writer and journalist (as was my father until war intervened) and my mother was a teacher and doctor of English. She, in particular, encouraged me NOT to write. Certainly my father preferred that I continue, instead, with football.
So I never really learned to write.
One lesson that I took from teachers, though, was the value of brevity - as displayed by their comments on exam papers and the like, such as ....
“Sets himself a very low standard which he consistently fails to achieve”
or, more directly,
“every mistake conceivable”
I once wrote an impassioned letter to my French teacher (at my mother’s insistence) detailing the reasons that I should not be expelled from the class. The letter went over 2 pages finishing with something like, “I earnestly beg for your reconsideration”. I signed it and left it on his desk.
The next day it was back on my own desk with just one word appended to it in red. 
The word was “no.”

And now I’ve gone way off topic and whilst I write this in praise of brevity I have displayed none myself.

So do you see what I mean? I never learned to write.


Posted By: Zelda
Date Posted: 15 May 2020 at 8:55pm
These are great answers, and a huge welcome and shout-out to the newbies!! It's great to get to know you and read about your lives! 

To RichmondRoad: You got expelled from French class? Oh my! On the other hand... I can see that! Tongue Great story!

When I was in Spanish class in tenth or eleventh grade, the teacher called on me to read. I was daydreaming and had no idea where in the text we were. I gave up trying to find my place after a while, so she called on someone else. Then, not five minutes later, she called on me again. Once again, I was helpless to know where we were in the text. 

"Aurelia," she said, because Aurelia is Spanish for Zelda, "What planet are you on today?!" 

And I kid you not. I replied, "Mars?" And everyone burst into laughter. 

"See me after class!" she demanded. 

Yikes! So, after class, I walked up to her and said in perfect Spanish, "Lo siento, senora." 

She forgave me, and I fled the room. 

What on earth did you do to get expelled? Big smile Was it just that you weren't trying, or were you up to mischief? 


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Posted By: e43
Date Posted: 15 May 2020 at 9:24pm
In my first year of HS in the Philippines (or, I suppose since they have K-12 now, seventh grade), a few students from the English club (or the school newspaper?) went around one day like a press gang asking people from every class if they could spare a student or four for the yearly newspaper writing competition. I wasn't exactly a writer back then, but I guess my classmates saw me as the best English student in the class, which probably happens if you read a lot. So, sure, it's an hour that I get to be excused from class, and all I have to do is write an editorial column. I do that and forget about it and move on with my life.

Fast-forward to a week later at assembly, where I'm just chilling in line and applauding some 3rd/4th-years (9th/10th grade, but equivalent to 11th/12th essentially) who took 3rd and 2nd place. Then they have the nerve to call me up to the stage because out of nowhere, I am first place. (Apparently, writing a heated, furious, critical opinion was not in fact ordinary business for seniors, who I'm guessing treated it like a languid essay instead.) So they encourage me next year to apply to the school newspaper. I do that. On paper, I edit one of the minor sections, but what they actually do is coach me to write the editorial columns. This goes on for a while until they pick me as the school rep for the national competition, top 3 go on to nationals; I got 4th but #3 backed out so I got his spot. So by 3rd year, I'm one of the senior editors, but at that point I'm writing and proofreading the whole editorial section, including rewriting the other seniors' opinion pieces.

Well, that's the formative part, at least. I immigrated to Canada a year later and found out that high schools apparently don't take school newspapers as seriously as we did, so I had to wait until university to get my creative juices their fix. Ironically enough, while I did get into a creative writing class, the ones that actually taught me the most were an intermediate English course where the instructor assigned a minimalist author, and a persuasive writing course where a prof would mark me down to hell if I didn't mean what I wrote and wrote what I meant.

But I'll credit the creative writing class because Medrie was an excellent poetry teacher.


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Posted By: craigs
Date Posted: 15 May 2020 at 11:06pm
I learned to write by reading.  I was a voracious reader as a child, and read very high above my expected level for my age.  Not because I was super smart, but reading is how you train yourself to read more.  I think the best way to learn to write is by reading.  And read everything.  Read complicated literature, read beach books, read trashy sci-fi and romances, read the news.  High-brow stuff and low-brow stuff.  Fiction and non-fiction.  Read it all.  After a while, when you want to write your own thoughts, you realize you know how.

Then, like others here have said, write a lot.  Writing is how you train yourself to write more.  And writing often is how you find your own voice.  But still keep reading.  If you only read your own writing, you start navel-gazing and stagnating.

So my tip for people who want to be better writers, is to read more and write more.  The only way to get better at anything is by practicing.



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Posted By: StayUpLateCreate
Date Posted: 16 May 2020 at 1:32pm
Originally posted by craigs craigs wrote:

I learned to write by reading.  I was a voracious reader as a child, and read very high above my expected level for my age.  Not because I was super smart, but reading is how you train yourself to read more.  I think the best way to learn to write is by reading.  And read everything.  Read complicated literature, read beach books, read trashy sci-fi and romances, read the news.  High-brow stuff and low-brow stuff.  Fiction and non-fiction.  Read it all.  After a while, when you want to write your own thoughts, you realize you know how.

Then, like others here have said, write a lot.  Writing is how you train yourself to write more.  And writing often is how you find your own voice.  But still keep reading.  If you only read your own writing, you start navel-gazing and stagnating.

So my tip for people who want to be better writers, is to read more and write more.  The only way to get better at anything is by practicing.


I unfortunately mostly read chemical and environmental engineering journal articles for my graduate school work. I prep myself for writing competitions by reading many short stories to get in the groove. When I get an assignment, I read several examples of short stories within the genre. I don't seem to have time to read novels these days. Maybe that's why my attempts at writing them have been disastrous. I agree, though. Reading is so helpful. 


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Cass


Posted By: StayUpLateCreate
Date Posted: 16 May 2020 at 1:37pm
Originally posted by e43 e43 wrote:

Well, that's the formative part, at least. I immigrated to Canada a year later and found out that high schools apparently don't take school newspapers as seriously as we did, so I had to wait until university to get my creative juices their fix. 

Hahah! I enjoyed reading this personal narrative. 


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Cass


Posted By: Draiglas
Date Posted: 16 May 2020 at 2:49pm
Honestly? Fanfic. I mean, I had English lessons in school and learned stuff from that, but my school was the sort where half the lesson was spent trying to take the register, and we went through so many teachers at GCSE that my dad (one of the governors of my school) said he was seriously considering proposing that anyone who taught my class at GCSE for longer than two weeks be given a medal.

But I got into fanfiction when I was a teenager, after watching some cartoon episode with a rather sad ending, and I found myself wondering about how the characters felt. So I wrote it and found I had a new hobby. Reading reviews taught me a lot about what people like in writing, and what mistakes to avoid. Writing fanfics taught me about properly planning stories, editing them, writer's block etc. And reading fanfics and writing reviews made me think critically about writing and about what I do and don't like. I mostly write my own stuff now, but I still keep my accounts going and do, occasionally, dip my toes back in...



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Posted By: aniaheasley
Date Posted: 17 May 2020 at 6:29am
I always wrote, as long as I can remember. What is amusing is that I always thought I was good at it despite pretty hard evidence against that assumption. I still have my handwritten diaries from when I was a clueless 12 year old schoolgirl, and by God what a pretentious affected self-centred cringing style they are written in. I am not sure how much my writing has changed since, but at least I have managed to cut down on the number of exclamation marks. Now I have published a book, have another one queuing up for my time to KDP it, I write two blogs, one about my professional life, one about everything else. Friends and family always praise my writing, with a few strangers complimenting me on Amazon, and those few tokens of appreciation are enough to keep me going. 
I am 'honing my craft' by lots of re-writes, listening to the rhythm of each sentence and paragraph that I produce, reading a lot of similar types of books and articles that I write myself to see how the 'competition' are doing. 


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Ania Heasley


Posted By: jenspenden
Date Posted: 18 May 2020 at 3:15pm
Osmosis (reading a lot).

Yep, that's about it. Tongue

Oh, this forum and my writing group have helped a ton, too. Constructive criticism goes a long way if you actually listen and work hard to improve based on feedback. 


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Posted By: RichmondRoad
Date Posted: 22 May 2020 at 7:56pm
Zelda. Haven’t you figured it out yet? It was because I was stupid.
Still am.


Posted By: Zelda
Date Posted: 23 May 2020 at 7:57pm
Originally posted by RichmondRoad RichmondRoad wrote:

Zelda. Haven’t you figured it out yet? It was because I was stupid.
Still am.

Shocked  Oh, come on, I don't believe that! As if!! 


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Posted By: WoodyGS
Date Posted: 23 Jul 2020 at 9:35pm
fan fiction Clown

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Posted By: vanwijk88
Date Posted: 24 Jul 2020 at 12:36am
When I was seven years old, starting school in a new country halfway across the world from anything I'd known so far, I started writing a "novel" in class called the "space pyramid" as my young mind was obsessed with both the stars and ancient Egypt. My teacher not only let me work on it during class time but encouraged me to continue it - which I did for about 3 months - and I think it was "published" in the school magazine. I sometimes wonder if I still have a old copy of that somewhere. 

At age 11, my last year of education's first era, I graced the school magazine again with a descriptive piece from a task we'd been given. The prompt: describe where you would like to travel. My answer, as it remains to this day, was the world of my imagination. Around the same time, the school librarian had allowed me access to the "big kids section" containing all the books for the high school, to feed my voracious appetite for fiction. Alas, I was a pretentious egomaniac who read books such as the Da Vinci Code, just to be seen reading them. Let's not discuss how much I actually understood. 

It was at the start of middle school, a year later, that got "that English teacher". If you were lucky enough to have one too, you know what I mean. He didn't just introduce me to language, he helped me understand it. Before then, I was wielding unbridled power, letting words fall haphazardly onto the page. He gave me structure, the tools to temper my language and craft it in stronger ways. 

14, I was, when I got my one and only 100% in an English exam. The fabled beast, only spoken of in whispers down school halls. "It was perfect", teachers would always say as they handed back an 80%. You see, there was a secret level beyond perfect, one that really did exist. Although I never reached it again - no one did - it was already too late. I'd tasted those heights, I was spellbound. 

The trials of a teen at fifteen turned me to poetry. Under the starlight, I sought a release. Language became not about telling any old tale, but my story. Words described not fantasy, but truth. At that time, I unlocked something within myself that would never recede, never withdraw again. I discovered an ability to communicate directly from my soul.  

A warm summer, leisurely youth, the lack of responsibility in a sixteen year old life, these were the ingredients for my next recipe. In the way that only the young really can, I just decided to write a novel - a proper one this time. No concerns for the behemoth task before me. No questions of capability. I wanted to do it, so I did. I still miss that carefree spark of childhood. 

As adulthood realities approached unbidden, I've been forced in recent years to step back. On the side, I sharpen my skills, whilst learning how to live as a man. I still have my youth, but perhaps not my innocence. That said, this journey has no defined start or end. The question proposed was how did I learn I to write? The simple distilled answer is that I have learnt in many ways, at many times. I will learn again in many ways more, in whatever times await. The real answer however, like almost all things in life, is much, much more complex. 


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"I intend to live forever or die trying."


Posted By: Bowbina76
Date Posted: 24 Jul 2020 at 5:59pm
I've loved writing since I was in middle school.  My first love was poetry and in HS I got third place in state competition.  I was actually a slam poet for a while in my twenties and then started working on short stories.  Then art kind of took over my time for awhile.  However, I'm currently attempting a novel but want to really work on my skills.  So I've got a handful of stories I'm working on and contests like NYC.  Best way to get feedback.  

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Posted By: Zelda
Date Posted: 24 Jul 2020 at 6:36pm
Originally posted by Melisa Melisa wrote:

I never knew how to write well, I always ordered all my essays and term papers from specialists from the written service that I found on the site  http://bestwritersonline.com/" rel="nofollow - bestwritersonline.com . By the way, there are reviews on several services, you can also choose for yourself. But the idea of learning how to write texts on my own did not leave me, and I began to study recommendation articles with some tips about writing. Some similar articles can also be read on this site.

You bought and paid for your essays and term papers?! No! Just no!! 

EDIT: Oh, good, the scammer's gone! Party


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Posted By: Scrib
Date Posted: 29 Jul 2020 at 6:44pm
I loved reading and writing as a young  kid and l would send fanmail letters to poets! (I was about 8 years old -email didn't exist) Then in secondary school,  I learnt how to analyse in English Literature classes and realised that authors have a point of view, experience and research- that they are not just trying to emulate someone else like I was. So I stopped and didn't write a story until 20 years later, in March this year. I've written so many technical papers and professional reports, agonised over numerous diplomatic emails for work. I just thought what if I put as much effort into my old childhood love for writing? I'm learning through  these NYM competitions, the forum and trial and error!The 100MF was such a great experience I came back for more! 

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Posted By: nod1v1ng
Date Posted: 29 Jul 2020 at 8:21pm

I always love when this topic gets revisited, because it reminds me that there is no wrong or right way to take this journey.

My mom was an English teacher so our thank you notes were scrutinized at a young age. I learned grammar and vocabulary (and tact) in the guise of thanking Grandpa for the Christmas dress that would never fit and even if it did, I would never, ever wear.

Honestly though, after high school assignments I left creative writing behind in favor of the glorious world of biochemistry. And a crazy desire to become a polyglot. And then got sucked into the remarkably nerdy world of robotics. And my intellectual self overshadowed my creative self.

It wasn't until I was, ahem, a grown a$$ woman with some serious baggage, that I started writing. You know, the angry divorced lady blog that is the requisite part of the healing process if you do not have the money to pay a shrink to fast track the process. I built a bit of a reader base, not because the writing was any good, but because I wasn't afraid to be furious and rude and raw and honest. (Perceived anonymity will do that for you.) 

A reader told me that I should try this thing called NYCm Flash Fiction contest. So I did. And got assigned a ghost story. Wink WUT? But it was fun. And so I wrote more and more.

I always knew how to write a well structured sentence, but as I practiced and failed and tried again, I learned the art of storytelling. And I learned the magic is in the practice. 

The thing that is clear to me is that there is so much yet to learn. And so I keep on writing and failing and trying again and publishing and failing and trying again. Every success and every failure make me a better writer. 

TL;DR? I learned to write by writing. 







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