One of my brothers and I were discoursing on the topic of writing, and he asked “...how does ‘all writing help all writing’? For example: how does writing tech manuals help writing a screen play for a comedy?”
I have been using that statement in my signature block for some years. I believe it. Now, I’m not going to get all scientific-y on everyone (except for one link, below), I’m just gonna use experience, but on the more mechanical and mundane side of the coin, any time we set out to do anything, it sets up new neuro pathways, even changes existing ones (okay, maybe a little scientific-y...). Basically, the dendrites and axons move, and break, and form nerve connections. For getting all “science-y” about dendrites, neurons, and axons, click here. I wasn’t able to find what I was looking for in my research, but there was a History Channel (I think it was) show that described how these connections change with learning. On a related topic, there’s also “muscle memory,” where the body learns, gets used to doing something it’s been repeatedly doing. The more you do something, the more you can do something, and the better you can be at it. The more you write, the better you get at it.
It’s called practice.
On the Zen side of things, I feel that the more we “tune” ourselves into whatever it is we’re doing, the better we become at it. The more “practiced” we become in accessing whatever it is we “access” when we write.
“Where did I come up with that?”
“Did I actually know that term?”
“Man--that was good--that came out of me?”
This ever happen to anyone?
Now, while you might need to learn the specific format and mechanics of technical or comedic writing, the fact that you’re becoming (or already are) a writing machine (yeah, give yourself some credit) will propel you forward in all your writing. You may not be oriented toward either of the abovementioned areas, but you are in other areas, and you’re a writer. That means you can write. For example, working on other, dissimilar areas of writing can help all writing through one or more of the following:
1. Formatting and formulation of ideas, topics, and structure.
3. Writing fast.
4. Writing to word counts.
5. Outlining--mentally or physically.
6. Receiving criticism.
7. Writing and rewriting. And rewriting.
8. Better use and combination of words and grammar.
9. Better familiarity with words.
10. Develops your “voice” (yes, I can see my “voice” in my technical writing as well as in my fiction.
11. Writing toughness (you think this stuff is easy?).
All of the above and more will make you a better, faster, more economical and efficient writer. There’s also the sitting down part (butt-in-chair syndrome), which is a pretty important aspect in and of itself.
Does it really matter what it is you’re writing about? If your life depended on you writing a rousing, emotional plea for action--or how to put together or break down (blindfolded!) a blender--do you think you could do it?
Of course you could.
Can you write funny? I’d say most of us have (intentionally or unintentionally) talked or acted funny in our lives. Use your writing superpowers to translate those experiences into the writing medium.
I am not one to parse things out and break down the “wholes” of things, I’m more of a “gestalt guy.” I believe that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, that all the little parts know their own place in the Grand Gestalt and will do their part in takin’ care of business, and as such, I allow it all to work its own metaphysical magic. Yes, at some point--and throughout the writing life--some “learnin” need take place, but I’m not really here to talk about craft. Just like I’m not a “parser,” I’m also not a “craft guy.” All this is about the intangible--which, I am about.
You’re a writer.
You write. Do so.
While you’re writing, weird and wonderful things happen. Once you’re “in the zone,” things come out of you that will very likely surprise you. But you have to allow this to happen, whether through meditation or the act of writing itself, and there are plenty of books out there on both of these.
Allow yourself to write, allow all of your writing--your life--experience to flow through you, to come out in the medium of your choice. “All writing helps all writing” is about state of mind. About not compartmentalizing your experiences, but allowing the Gestalt to overtake, to flow through you.
Writing is simply putting one word in front of the other. It’s just like walking. How we do it is where all the Zen takes place, the practice, the mechanics...the magic.
About the Writer: F. P. (Frank) Dorchak’s interest in the paranormal and reality manipulation has been with him as long as he can remember and saturates his fiction and non-fiction. Currently a technical writer, he’s published in the U.S., Canada, and the Czech Republic with a handful of short stories and non-fiction articles, as well as his first published novel, Sleepwalkers. His Twilight Zone-like short, “Tail Gunner” was included in this year’s Longmont Public Library, You Belong anthology. He’s attended 20 years worth of writer conferences, has presented and volunteered at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference, presented at local writers’ groups, and has been interviewed on local and Internet radio, most recently this past April, on Roaring Success Radio out of Castle Rock, Colorado. Frank’s Runnin’ Off at the Mouth blogsite can be found at http://fpdorchak.wordpress.com/. He’s currently working on an action/adventure conspiracy series, and is represented by Cherry Weiner.