1. Where do I start ? Seems to be the inevitable question when you want to commit something to paper, errr, whichever word processing program on whichever platform you’re using… Lets just stick to paper. So, where should someone start writing ? With reading. And that includes all the preparation necessary - research, thinking things through. You don’t just jump into it. Even if it is poetry.
2. The late great Leonard Cohen told an anecdote to a journalist about his first meeting with the luckily still alive Nobel laureate Bob Dylan. If I haven’t read it at a time when I wasn’t wise enough to write (or record, or whatever) everything inspirational down, I would be able to tell it precisely, but here it goes:
At one point during the conversation, Cohen asks Dylan: “How Long Did it take you to write the lyrics for Like A Rolling Stone?” “Five hours!” exclaimed Dylan, coming back with his own question: “And how long did it take you to write Hallelujah?” So Cohen tells the journalist: “I answered, five days. I lied, it took me five years.”
3. My point is simple - everybody has their thinking process, some things take you longer, but you still have to think them through, make a concept, and then commit to words.
Maybe Dylan wasn’t bragging, maybe it really did take him five hours to write down than novel of a song in five hours. But how long did it take him to conceive it ? He had to have a certain experience, acquire a certain knowledge to be able to write it at all, in any time frame.
4. Many people trying to write start sweating out about what title and introduction they should start with. But, these two things, particularly if you are dealing with something like copywriting are probably the last two things you should write down - you have to know precisely what you are dealing with, come to a conclusion and then put down your title, introduction and, of course the punchline. Oh, that is the punchline.
1. Attempting to write is easy. Really doing it is something else. To get yourself going, remember the times of those early homework pieces you had to do - there was always something that was a breeze to do and things that were so off your path (at least at that moment) that everything else at that instant seemed more worthy of your attention. Stick to the breezy stuff, I guess. If you can. Anyway, everything is a homework of some sort, particularly office work, even the stuff you assign to yourself, urge or no urge.
2. Whenever people talk about freelancing and its attractiveness, they usually pinpoint the ‘free’ element of it. Well sure, but unless you have some sort of structure you can forget it. No writing, or anything else productive will come out of it. Yes, you do not have to be productive exactly from 9 to 5 every day, or you can do your writing from your garden (if you have it) a sandy beach (if you can afford it), a nearby cafe (if the espresso is good), or among the mess of magazines, books and whatnot in your room (but then, its your mess and you can find your way around it). So what is then the advantage of that ‘free’ f you have to have structure - well, you are the one making that structure and it is the one that will bring out the best writing (or whatever) out of you.
3. Have in mind that when you start out there will be waiting to be done. Probably the worst ‘must’ around. I guess doctors, hairdressers and other places where you have waiting to do have a pile of magazines, or even books around, to help us bridge the gap. Actually, that is the perfect time to use the ‘writers vacuum’ - pick up, save, write down any article, book, let alone an idea that comes up. Whether it is the old fashioned notebook (Moleskine’s are nice but can be pricey), or Evernote (you know that little elephant icon for the software you downloaded at some point but forgot what it was for - at least somebody over at that software company remembers that late Sixties band “Elephant’s Memory”), it will always serve its purpose. If nothing else, it will give you something to read sift through or simply do while you wait for those assignments to come in.
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