So I’ve got a note written on my phone. I seem to be using notes on my phone a lot these days, not sure if that’s a sad indictment on my own memory but whatever, my brain training app says my memory’s decent at least. It’s one of those ‘instructions to yourself’ notes, and it says, “Just vent. Talk about what it is about films and such things that you like, and be honest. Don’t dress it up, don’t try and be clever, just open up”. See, that reads as something fairly easy to do, I’m literally telling myself to relax and go with the flow and just type and blurt what I’m thinking and feeling out, so it’s interesting that actually this feels harder than starting to write according to some ‘essay plan’ I’ve come up with, complete with structure, arguments, counter-arguments, evaluation, all that jazz. I’ve got basically the whole of Senior School and university to thank for that (and to anyone who just so happens to be reading this in the US, no, Senior School is not a school for old people, although to be fair you do call the final year of high school ‘senior year’ so maybe you read that right in the first place and I’m just being patronising). But yes, writing has always been something I’m pretty damn good at, and I’ve dabbled in various forms of it. I’ve written screenplays, blogs, reviews, think-pieces, ‘listicles’ (that’s a thing now), but this isn’t me trying to sell credentials. This isn’t a cover letter. My point is that I have experimented, but over the past few years that’s sadly fallen by the wayside somewhat. I think it’s fair for me to blame my time management more than anything else. After GCSEs, A Levels and a BA, I’ve written more essays than I can ever hope to remember, and as a result every time I try to write anything, it’s still kinda stuck in that whole essay mentality. At least, that’s how it reads. You could tell me to write about literally anything, to write with no bias or even all that much of an opinion, to write as if I were having a conversation with a friend, but somehow what I write will turn into this big constructed thesis. It’s very hard to describe, but it all just comes out as overly academic, and frankly I’m sick to death of boxing myself into so specific an MO, when I know I’m more than capable of writing in different styles for different purposes. So if everything I write here, and going forwards, suddenly gets a little hard to follow and meanders all over the place and is rife with tangents and basically doesn’t seem to go anywhere at points, just remember you’re dealing with about eight years-worth of pent-up word vomit. Lovely image.
So here’s the plan:
Step 1) Get used to word vomiting. It’ll be messy but it’s easier and kinda more efficient to make something out of a mess than it is to surgically extract words, sentences, arguments and all piece by piece from my cranium and arrange them into something that’s perfectly fine as a piece of writing but tends to lack any flair or sense that an actual human being in all his complexity produced it. And another thing, write about whatever the fuck you want. If you want to write about the failings of Batman v Superman, or the legacy of Gene Wilder, or Trump, or the most trivial and meaningless thing in the world, DO IT! It will clear that out your head and let you think more about moving onto subject matter that may not immediately spark the imagination but with a little mental application you can produce something great on it!
Step 2) Get your time management game on. Seriously, it’s all very well unlocking however much you have to say but at the end of the day the whole point of writing is to communicate with others via print, and part of that means dealing with an increasingly societal attention deficit issue. People want concision, not waffling. You know this bit’s gonna have you grinding your teeth because you hate producing a subpar work and blaming time for it, but practice makes perfect. Make a game of it maybe! Do whatever, but once you’re comfortable sitting down and blurting out whatever’s on your mind, time management is the first big step towards refining that comfort into something conducive, something which can birth a voice that is fit for not only written discourse, but for publishing. And that’s the name of the game, literally.
Step 3) Actually I’m not 100% sure what step 3 was. I swear I had one in my head a minute ago. Not sure it may have gotten dispersed between the other two steps. Awkward. Oh yeah, maybe it was something to do with laziness? You can be quite lazy. So yeah, don’t be lazy. Work hard, play hard, all that. Plus you always feel better about yourself after you’ve worked hard, makes the end of the day much more satisfying. To be honest this isn’t really a step is it, more just a reminder, a telling off to myself. Dammit I swear there was an actual third step in my head. Well if it comes back, it comes back and you can blurt it out in the middle of a random sentence. Urgh, this is going to annoy me WAIT I’VE GOT IT! FOR REAL! Although the don’t be lazy point I’m still gonna say kind of counts. Anyway, the MAIN step 3 is in fact: branch out. When you’re good with steps 1 and 2, when you feel competent at writing in general, it’s time to take a step out of your comfort zone and explore your talents in other pastures. Beyond film, beyond politics, beyond commenting on people’s behaviour and international relations and morality and all that, learn to write about the mundane. The high-octane, the thought-provoking. Write about IKEA kits and hidden wonders of the world. Write about something you read in the paper, god forbid you ever actually try and address economics. And guess what. You don’t have to be an expert on these things from the get go. I mean ideally you’ll have read something to have inspired writing on these things but let your writing help build your knowledge up. Establish how much you don’t know, then fill in the gaps.
Well as somewhat expected, this entire piece took a very different turn from what I intended when I sat down. Kind of. But at the same time, like I said before, it cleared a lot of these thoughts in my mind out the way. Now I can start moving onto other things. Kinda therapeutic, really.
Hang on, you’re starting to worry again. You’re fretting over where you should publish this, if at all. You feel like you should publish this, otherwise it will just get lost in the Word doc files of your laptop. But you don’t know if you should on your current film blog because A: this piece has barely anything to do with film, B: it feels so jarring to start off something like this amidst a body of work that to date has been very different (and guilty of many of the self-described sins you listed earlier), and C: people you know might read this. Maybe tumblr? But tumblr’s a strange place and you’ve kinda outgrown that. So, maybe your Mr Everyone blog? I mean you’ve only written like 3 entries there, or thereabouts. I think you’re regretting the branding now, it’s a little pretentious and vague and doesn’t really say anything. You do like a pseudonym. Have a look and see if you can change it to something with a longer lifespan of relevance to you, or something that better captures what you truly want your writing to be, more than that, even what you want as a person, what drives you and informs your being etc. Or even just delete Mr Everyone and start from scratch, but that kinda defeats the purpose you’ve talked about here where you embrace the fact you’re a work in progress and don’t have to be perfect from the start. I think your gut is kinda clear on this one, so just do it. This is the start of a new chapter in your writing. Make it so.