Monday, March 19, 2012

Analyzing The Writer

As a young-and-aspiring writer, I haven't found my "things" yet. 

Things like:

-my writing style
-my plotting/story-boarding, "work" format
-my favorite way to write (keyboard? pens? a blue pencil?)
-my themes

So that's what I want to write about today.  How do you figure out what these are?  I expect the answer runs along the lines of, "just shut up and write" (and then you'll figure it out years later) but for the sake of discussion (and a longer blog post), I'm going to hazard a guess, or several, about the Origins of a Writer's Style.

I think we have to begin with the individual brain.  Your Primary Story-Telling Device.  The thing you spin yarns with, the thing that gives you crazy dreams wherein mice are your co-workers, translating your data entry into Braille*.  Everybody's noodle is wired differently, and whether you realize it or not, your personality and your brain have a lot to do with HOW you write.  (I'm talking about weird stuff, like why you only drink orange soda while writing code for websites)

For example: I am a messy, disorganized Type-B individual.  I don't use notecards or Post-Its with enough regularity for them to be called Instruments of My Trade.  I'm more likely to keep one notebook and scribble EVERYTHING down.  The organization will come later.  Hopefully.  I just shower my paper with thoughts (and doodles) and hope something linear arrives.  A pattern of some kind.  Sewing mixed seeds and then hoping to harvest all the cucumbers, that sort of thing.

Why?  It has to do with what type of learner I am.  My brain deals with abstracts much better than concretes.   I learn by doing, seeing the big picture and drawing strange connections.  So it makes sense I'd write stories that way.  My brain's just wired like that.

Also, I snack on carbs when my brain stops working as I write.  Maybe that explains my non-pregnant-yet-round tummy.  O.o  (That or I'm an extra-tall halfling, and loving/eating tons of food is in my DNA.  I tend toward that prognosis)

I think part of the way you write also comes from the stuff you love (obvious, but let me explain).  Say you decide to write a story about fruit, a princess, a large, cuddly animal and perhaps some sort of magical spell.  Those things were stored in your brain from somewhere.  Your brain likes these things for some reason, and it pulls in stuff you won't even realize is in there until you begin dissecting, years later, for those nosy columnists who interview you after your story wins best something-or-other.

There's also the idea that you often include stuff that's happened to you as a way of processing it.  I tend to write about characters who are only children, who want something -- either a 'real' family that actually gets along or spends time together, or to escape the oppressive situations they've grown up in.  I'll let you figure out why I write about the last two situations, but as for the only child thing...

I've thought about that a lot, and I've just this second seen why I write about that.  When I was very small, I lost a little brother in a tragic accident.  I was an only child for a while again, and I don't think I ever forgot what that felt like, even though I now have three more siblings.

Weird, isn't it?  Like a little piece of yourself coming into focus.

As for my Tools of the Trade -- I must have a non-scratchy pen.  I CANNOT write with a scratchy one.  I can't concentrate and I want to blow the pen up in a much-larger-than-necessary explosion.  I love notebooks.  I have too many, and few of them are gorgeous.  I can't write in beautiful, empty books.  What if I mess them up?!  I also love writing on the computer -- I'm a pretty fast typist.  I prefer certain programs over others and I may find a favorite eventually but I'm young and new enough to this that I haven't found The One yet.

So what about you?  As you approach a new writing project (or ScriptFrenzy), what do you stock up on?  Have you discovered something about yourself while writing that surprised you?  Do you hate scratchy pens too?

*Totally had this dream a few nights ago.  It seemed perfectly normal at the time.

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