Interview: Buzzy Jackson
Current Mood: thirsty
Current Song: Generator ^ First Floor by Freelance Whales
Have you checked out our postergirlz recommended reads for September? Our non-fiction pick is Shaking the Family Tree: Blue Bloods, Black Sheep, and Other Obsessions of an Accidental Genealogist by Buzzy Jackson. She offered up these words of wisdom for you aspiring writers lurking here and at the readergirlz blog:
How to Write
Sure we all know how to write: a series of letters forming words, forming sentences, forming paragraphs... et cetera. So why is it so difficult to write in a way that expresses who we are inside and what we feel? For most of us there's one big reason: fear of the less-than-perfect.
It took me two books and hundreds of pages to get over my own fears of not writing well enough. Well enough for... what, exactly? Ah, there's never a good answer to that question.
Most of us can come up with a cool idea for a poem, a story, or even a Facebook post, but when it comes time to put the words down on the screen, we're suddenly faced with the fact that what we're feeling doesn't quite match what we're writing. It's just not good enough – that's what we tell ourselves, anyway.
Stop telling yourself that! I'm serious: Just stop it. The very first step to writing well is to learn to make that inner "it's-not-good-enough" voice shut up. We all hear it, but the folks who learn to ignore it are the ones who end up making things: books, songs, fashion, films... You must start ignoring the critic inside your head.
Will ignoring the critic make you a good writer? Not by itself, but it will allow you to do one of the two things good writing requires: practice writing. Just like dancing or biking or drawing, the more you write, the better you get at it.
The second thing every good writer does is read – a lot. Read as much as you can and read everything you can. Try to mix your genres: science fiction one week, Joseph Conrad the next. Personally I find that good books fall into two categories: those that are so good they intimidate you and make you afraid to even attempt your own writing, and those that are so good they inspire you to sit down and write your own great book.
The next time you get a good idea, take one of those inspiring books with you for courage, sit down, and just start writing. Tell the inner critic to shut up, and just write. No matter what the result, know this: you've just overcome something most people can't: fear of not being good enough. You're good enough. And the more you write, the better you're going to be at it.
- Buzzy Jackson