What a strange creature man is, that he speaks effusively, yet writes in a stuttering step. To speak is to let loose words upon the passing breeze, sometimes caught upon the snarls of a microphone. To write… that is to set in stone, be it graphite pencil or the silicon of computer chips.

Enough of this florid prose. What you are now reading is the result of, no doubt, hours of composition, but for all that it is within your grasp to do the same. That is my intent in writing to all you skill-seekers.

Beginning

Brad BecomeDon’t feel constrained to only write with one thing. Hand written, typewriter, computer text editor, and so on. You might write faster one way or another, or you may find that it is easier to get into the mood with pen and paper, and then transcribe it into Microsoft Word to catch spelling and grammar mistakes. Write however you like, and don’t be afraid to mix it up from time to time.

Another essential part of writing is building your vocabulary. You could do this by reading a dictionary, but the best method is reading. A lot. Reading shows the words in context, and, if the writer is skilled, to good effect. As you read more and more, you will get a feel for what sounds good, what some useful narrative devices are, and (at least unconsciously) how to emulate certain styles or tones of writing. This is hardly limited to writing; if ever you pursue as skill, seriously look at the sort of things you want to do that others have done. This will give you an idea of what you are trying to do, and you may be struck by ideas to deviate from what has been done.

Where do ideas come from?

Your mind. In all seriousness, ideas are a product of your experiences and your thought processes. If it feels like you don’t have any ideas, try varying your routine. As you do new things, the memories will stick out in your mind, and you will be able to spin ideas from the edges. Once you do get an idea, do not trust your memory. Write that sucker down. To this effect, I often keep several pens and some paper on me. You can also use a notepad app on your phone; the point is, keep a record. It may be that no single idea is enough for what you want to write, but several ideas in combination will be enough.

Writer’s block

Everyone gets it from time to time. There is no one true method to getting past it, but it generally helps to write. I know that sounds unhelpful, but it is far more important to get words on the page than it is to get the right words on the page. You can go back and edit them later, but if you never write them, you will have nothing to build upon. Your brain will get the idea that, “Hey, it’s time to write, I better fire up those parts of gray matter.” Just like athletes, writers can “get into the zone”. What you do to get there is up to you, but don’t let it stop you if you don’t have all the conditions you think you need. For a long time, I didn’t think I could write without utter solitude, but over the years I have found that you can write at any time. Even if the first however many lines are just stream of thought nonsense, it gets you writing, and from there it’s like riding a bike.

What do I write about?

To read all of Brandon Quist's articles, click the image.The rise and fall of the Roman Empire. Or rather, whatever catches your fancy. This could be simple journal writing, your personal life posted on your blog, non-fictional articles, poetry, short fiction, long fiction, reviews, a Dear John letter, pretty much anything. You can write anything you can conceive, be it real or imaginary or somewhere in between.

I would recommend fiction; you can sell that stuff. Write what you know, research what you don’t know, and write what you like. If you aren’t enjoying it, consider writing about something else. Experiment with genres, characters, settings, and so on. You may end up writing one amazing thing outside your comfort zone, perhaps because you aren’t as aware of the rules or traditions of the genre.

Religiously, writing has been the very foundation of what we know now. Consider all the record keeping required to bring the accounts of the prophets to what we now know as scripture. What composition, that the writings are so influential and inspiring in these modern times. As we testify of truth and bear witness of the divine in our lives, we can similarly inspire those who come after us.

Brandon Quist About Brandon Quist
Brandon is originally from Olmsted Falls, Ohio. He has studied both at Baldwin Wallace college and Brigham Young University, and is currently pursuing Chemical Engineering, among other things. He considers himself a jack of all trades, and a master of none. In his spare time, Brandon enjoys knitting, guitar, reading, origami, writing, and photography.

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