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When I was twelve years old, I sat down at my old flower power mac during the midst of the night, and found a site that changed my life.

Bear with me, I promise this will all come full circle.

It was a lion king fan art site, filled to the brim with excited artistic youth. I spent months excitedly panning the website, looking at art, and realizing for the first time in many years that i wanted to draw.

So I did. In the end it took me a year or so to get very good at it, but once I had, it changed my life. I suddenly saw everything in a very different way, and even more surprisingly, I had developed a vague photographic memory from panning back and forth to reference pictures, or scenes. (Let me tell you, that helped a lot with high school tests!)

When i was sixteen, I stopped drawing. I began to fear failure for the first time, fear that if I tried to draw, (or write for that matter) I would prove to myself that I wasn't as good as I had made myself to be in my head. So I stopped completely in order to maintain my ego, (which of course was an utter failure) and finished absolutely nothing for two years. Sure, I'd get inspired by a movie or a book or a song, and I'd start something, but I never ever had the sheer bravery to finish.

I don't know what happened, whether I realized I was going nowhere, or if it was simply a really good boyfriend who pulled me out of my hole, but a year ago I began to finish things.

And I began to write. In fact, I surpassed the 10,000 word limit that I had never gotten past before during writing a novel in my life. Then I passed the 20,000 mark, and the 30k, 40k, 50k and on. I was so proud of myself I hardly have words, and I'm still proud of myself for writing strong.

But finishing what you start is one thing, being good at finishing what you start is another.

Let me tell you how being an artist has helped me.

When I write, I visualize, and I assume the rest of you do too. (I'm not exactly sure how anyone could go about a novel without visualizing, but I digress.) Most people who are not artistic have not trained their minds to really see. Some can, some are brilliant. But let me talk about a common phenomena, being able to see something in your head, but not being able to put it down on paper, whether as a drawing or a story.

This is because you think you're seeing something accurately and detailed in your mind's eye, but you're not really. Your brain is tricking you into thinking that you are. Either that or you just need some touch ups translating the thought to paper.

Being an artist taught me how to think. How to visualize, and really see everything. The details, I mean. From the reflections on the glass, to the shadowed lines in a logo, from the sparks in the background of a picture, to the shape of a book as it bends. You have to be able to see everything, not just the general idea of something.

With this visualization, I became pretty OK at writing down the scenes I saw in my head, because I could see the little things that made it real. Its not always the broad, large pieces of an image that make it a reality. Sometimes it's the little indications, the very minute details that translate genuinely in the reader's or onlooker's head.

So if you want to be a writer, I'm not saying you have to be an artist (or participate in lion king fan art sites as a child). All I'm saying is try to see, really see. Look at the lines in a person's expression as they talk, what conveys to you their emotion. Watch their body language. Hear the tones in their voice. See the scene around you, how it is a character in your life, how it effects you.

All of this will help you to be a better writer.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 9th, 2013 05:59 pm (UTC)
this was actually INCREDIBLY useful.

I used to write a lot as a kid, even won some competitions for it, and I wanted to be a writer. Knew I wanted to be a writer. And then like you I stopped (around the same age). Maybe its an age thing, we all start to doubt our skills and talents at that age.

I let my writing fall to the wayside almost completely - and then I went to university where writing becomes a really different beast. Looking back its funny because I had profs tell me all the time that I wrote too 'descriptively' and I worked really hard to become an academic writer (yay grad school). But now that I'm done school, I've been trying to decide what my passion is and I know its storytelling - and writing is the most effective way to tell stories. And they say what you were really passionate about as a child is what you're still passionate about. And since I can't actually become a dinosaur like I wanted to be as a kid, writing is a good second choice. :P

But as I re-enter this its been really hard. Trying to retrain my brain to organize thoughts in a story-like way instead of an academic argument.

And then like you said, its a confidence thing. I'm terrified I'm not as good as I think I am or as good as I'd like to be. And its crippling. And nearly impossible to read your own work back and see constructively whats wrong with it lol.

I do get stuck on translating what I see in my head to paper. So your tip about taking an actual visual eye to it is FANTASTIC. I don't know why I hadn't thought of that before. I'm a visual learner (but can't draw to save my life lol), but spending the time to build the scene in my head and then translating all the details is a really smart thing to do.

Thank you for sharing this, it was really helpful.
Sep. 9th, 2013 09:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I definitely understand, being confident about writing is such a behemoth to overcome! I'm so glad I could help!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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